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Destination: Career

 

Last month, I was asked to address my CFDD group in Seattle. At their request, I spoke on my journey to the NACM Chairmanship. That topic gave me pause; it made me stop and think about the things that I considered as important and critical to my professional success. Preparing for my presentation presented an opportunity: I had to write down all of the things that I believe are important to professional success.

My professional journey has been like the climb up Mt. Everest has been described to be. The climb has been long, challenging, exhausting, exhilarating—and at times, I’ve been tempted to simply stop. But, all along the way, the journey has been filled with breathtaking scenery and views.

I hope that the list of things I identified will help to shorten and bring perspective to your own journey. Last month, I talked with you about how you can change the odds by recognizing and leveraging Opportunity, by learning from and giving back through Mentoring, and by growing through Volunteering.

Let me share some of the other things that I listed as important:

At the very top of my list is Education. We’ll have the chance to hear Albert Mensah speak on the United States being the land of opportunity at the upcoming Nashville Credit Congress. I agreed with his thoughts: we truly do live in the land of opportunity. I remember thinking to myself, “How else could I be writing this commentary, sharing my thoughts with you to today, if it were not for opportunity?”

I was raised in a generation when women were destined to become full-time wives and mothers, happily cooking fried chicken, making bread from scratch, crocheting, sewing and doing embroidery. I will share a secret with you: my husband still doesn’t appreciate those French knots embroidered on his pillow cases! I wasn’t the one who was supposed to have the career; and credit wasn’t even a career when I started out in it. What a glorious climb my time in the credit arena has been!

Reflecting back, I’ve learned that a career is what you make of it: if you enjoy the company you work for, if you embrace your career, if you are proud of what you do, you will shine and you will advance. You can never stop growing and learning because each and every day presents a new opportunity to you.

Dr. Alan Zimmerman, in one of his “Tuesday’s Tips”, said “If you dare to teach, you must never cease to learn.” He also asked, are you still a student? Are you continually learning? You can’t expect to be an effective leader or a positive influence if you’re not in the process of learning more and getting better.”

Pam Foreman, CCE, currently serving as the CFDD National Chairman, adopted the theme “Invest in Yourself”. That’s a powerful motto. Think about it: the more you invest in your education... in the performance you give... in the way you act... in the way you appear... the further you will go in the business arena.

Credentialing is an opportunity and it creates opportunity: you need education and mentoring to be successful in obtaining credentials. I would not have the position and respect that I enjoy today with my company, if I had not earned my CCE. The COO of my company places great weight on my CCE credential. Credentialing is continuing your steps forward in your career; and those steps are never-ending.

A positive attitude always brings about better results than a bad attitude. Legendary football coach Lou Holtz once said, “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. But attitude determines how well you do it.” Pat Riley shared this in his book when he wrote, “...attitude is the mother of luck. Every life has its setbacks. Facing those setbacks is what keeps you alive. Any time you stop striving to get better, you’re bound to get worse.”

I believe that hand-in-hand with a positive attitude is enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is a wonderful thing—it is contagious and it grows. Unfortunately we don’t always feel enthusiastic, but if you put your own feelings aside and let your enthusiasm show, it will spread to others. Once enthusiasm gets started, nothing can stop it! Isn’t that a wonderful, powerful thing?

A few months ago while commuting to work I noticed a sign on a local church reader board in Kent, Washington: “Vision is the gift of seeing unseen things.” We are in an ever-changing world, and that hasn’t been any more apparent than in recent years. The field of credit isn’t what it was when I started out over 40 years ago, back when the hottest new thing in accounting was a Burroughs business machine! We must all be willing to align ourselves with our company’s rapidly changing needs in a business environment moving ever-faster. We have to be willing to find bigger and better ways to get things done. In today’s business environment, it’s speed—combined with quality—that matters most. We cannot sit back and say, “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

As Lester C. Thurow once said, “A competitive world has two possibilities: You can lose, or, if you want to win, you can change.” Let education, credentialling, a positive attitude, passion and vision help you to succeed.

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