by John Ingrisano
John Newton became captain of his own ship at age 25. He was offered the job a year earlier, but begged off, asking instead to be made first mate, so he could gain more experience. In the end, it made him a better leader.
(For those of you who do not know Newton, he was born in 1725 in England and is best known for writing one of the most popular hymns of all time, “Amazing Grace.” Though he eventually became the most respected preacher of his day, and helped England become the first country to ban the infamous African slave trade, he was also in his youth a notorious drunk, womanizer and slave trader … proof that there is hope for all of us. For more on this and other redemption subjects, I invite you to visit my spiritual blog, www.dailyconnections.net.)
My point: For most go-getters, it is the years between age 30 and 40 when our careers take off like rockets, when we are likely to see our incomes double and triple and rise to the vice president spot, and do lunch with the CEO. After that, we either build more sanely on what we have achieved or burn out like a Charlie Sheen, unable to handle our success.
How to avoid becoming a wildly talented flash in the pan, quick to rise and quick to plummet back to earth: Do like John Newton. (No, not his profligate ways!) Go slowly, if possible. Take your time to learn, find good mentors, build true, lasting talent, not just flashy charm and gutsy moves.
I knew a man who was a director of labor relations at Firestone Tires back in the 1960s. He loved his job. When he was offered the position of vice president of labor relations, he turned it down — three times – even though it would have meant an almost doubling of his salary. Eventually, he accepted the position, but only when he felt he was ready. (When he retired 20 years later, he was one of the most respected men both in the company and with the unions, who saw him as a formidable but fair opponent.)
Take your time. Build your skills. That corner office will be there when you are ready. But do not be in a rush. Get it right … not just fast.
Work hard, make money, have fun … and don’t be in such a super rush to get to the top. It will still be there when you do arrive. There is plenty of room at the top.
The Freestyle Entrepreneur – winner of the 2010 Top 35 Entrepreneur Blog awards from OnLine MBA.
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