“A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again.” -Roy H. Williams
When you join any company, at the induction you are told how the company works, what the standard procedures and codes are, what your benefits are, etc. But no one tells you what it would take for you to become successful there.
You are so happy to have got a corporate job with a good package, that you think your battles are won and you are blindsided when the real games begin. You thought that your company would train you, then give you some projects and you would manage. Your coworkers are as clueless as you, and your family just thinks you should be content with your well-paying job in a big company. Are your college professors then to blame? Probably not, because your MBA curriculum doesn’t cover this. So if your company, your coworkers, your family and your professors are not to blame for not teaching you the formula for success, then who is? It is you! Don’t you think it is your responsibility to proactively seek this information and learn how to apply it?
The truth is every day I meet people from across the corporate world who are simply unhappy with their “great” jobs and unable to live the life they dream of. In fact, even I used to be one of those people! Thankfully for me, I realized that what I had was a problem to be solved, not an immutable destiny that was out of my control. It was up to me- not my company, my bosses, or my employees- to create my present and future. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I became very curious about exactly what was making people happy or unhappy, and successful or unsuccessful. As I started talking to more and more people at different levels in various sectors, I could see clearly the real factors that made all the difference in corporate life.
My most fundamental and interesting realization was that a corporate career is a competitive game, with some clear rules, goals, boundaries and rewards. To play it well, you not only have to be very skilled at it, but you also have to have the passion for it and a desire to win. Just like with any other game, there will some opponents and tricky situations. Don’t dismiss these as “politics” or “bad luck”, or see this all in a negative light. After all, what is politics? At some basic level, it is about conflict between different values and beliefs. In any situation involving more than one person, some conflicts will arise and there will eventually there will be the dreaded “politics”. I hear many people complaining that they should leave their jobs and go into business. But if you can’t manage office politics, how do you expect to manage anything in the real world outside tame corporate domains? Earlier, every other day I would declare that I was ready to go back to my village and do my fish business. But I knew that in business I would have to manage far more complicated issues than in any job. As some poet once said, life itself is one big game. So work on improving your scores. You’ve already taken the first step by taking this course!
Over the coming lessons, I have laid out a simple theory for success in the corporate world based on 11 ingredients that I think are key. I like to think of these 11 ingredients as the 11 players in a cricket team. All the players are valuable to the team, but the relative importance of each varies based on both the stage of the game, and on the pitch on which the game is being played. As with any game, there is a scoring system to keep track of how well you are playing, and for the game of careers I have devised an index called the Corporate Success Quotient (CSQ) where the maximum score is 100 points. You may wonder why I am introducing a scoring model. What is the use of such calculations? The point is that simply having an intellectual knowledge of something doesn’t make anyone any good at applying it. Your understanding will be deeper and your application more effective if you spend some time making observations and seeing for yourself how the scores add up.
The next time you see a person who is very successful, try to calculate their CSQ based on the guidelines in this book and you’ll realize why they are in their position. You might be surprised to find two people working equally hard, but one doing much better than the other because hard work contributes to their overall score differently. Remember that the relative importance of each factor, or each player in your team depends upon the corporate you work for, and its mission and work culture.
Even if you leave the corporate world tomorrow, you will get the most out of it today if you learn to play the game well. In fact the lessons you’ll learn will also help you play other life games much better. This is because all games, fundamentally, have the same timeless and universal human interactions at their core.