Are you waiting for the “Luck of the Irish” to help your career?

Good luck is when preparation meets opportunity.  I have to admit, I have played the lottery, looked for four-leaf clovers, and attributed things to good luck.  However, success if rarely begotten by good luck alone.  I recently spoke with a WiSER(TM) (Woman in Senior-level Expatriate Role) who shared a story of great bravery which helped to inspire her own professional bravery.  I would like to pass that story on to you today.

The WiSER was conducting academic research in conjunction with a banking leader early on in her career.  The research was looking at how graduates with similar psychological profiles, degrees, backgrounds can end up in positions varying so widely.  The WiSER had the chance to conduct what was considered to be one of the most critical interviews with a very influential and successful manager at the bank.  She walked into the interview well prepared, had reviewed her list of questions and was completely disappointed by the interview.  There was nothing new, groundbreaking or interesting.

As the bank manager was putting his coat on and offering her coat to her, she said, “Off the record, you really haven’t told me anything interesting.  Please tell me, what is the secret of your success?  I want to know what was the moment for you where you believe your career took a leap and you set yourself apart from the pack?”  He laughed and said, “Do you really want to know?”   She said, “I need to know. You got to tell me.”

As the WiSER shared, “He relayed a story, which stays with me my whole life and I think it’s just a fundamental of life.”  The manager she interviewed said, there was one moment where he walked into a big HSBC dinner and he was the lowest of the low on the totem pole and his name tent was at a table in the back recesses of the banquet room.  He saw the chairman of the bank coming and his seat was at a front table with many senior people of his team.  It was at that moment that the bank manager made a simple yet ever so difficult decision to be brave.   He walked up to the chairman, shook his hand, introduced himself, and asked if he could sit next to him.  At that moment, the bank manager looked into the chairman’s eyes and knew that his career was either made or broken.  There was a bit of hesitation and then the chairman said, “Please take a seat.”  The bank manager said that from that moment his career was made and that decision of great bravery is what helped to make him one of the top branch managers.

Breaking “glass borders” is not about luck, it is about taking risks, and being brave.  Good luck and be brave!

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