Someone who appears on the collective public radar seems to be an ‘overnight success’ because we weren’t aware of any of the preparation this person had gone through. Somehow this becomes part of our ideal of success then, that it just happens to you. But that newly minted person of renown will most likely tell us that there was plenty of trial and error, effort and planning that went before this heightened awareness. There was an incubation period.
Subject matter expert, thought leader, influencer – these are the words that we use to describe the people who know their stuff in whatever part of the professional world we inhabit. They have experienced localized, or possibly broader success that may or may not have seemed to come out of nowhere. But again, there was deliberate and consistent effort and planning on their part during some sort of incubation period.
Incubation will include some sort of training – formal or informal – and practical experience. At the start, it might not be exactly clear what is being cultivated, perhaps a generalized affinity for certain activities that could support a career; say communication or math skills. And I think that is key, many of us hearing someone else’s success story will hear about deliberate, decisive action and think of this as a potential deterrent for our own success because we don’t have clarity on our own direction yet.
That successful person might have had clarity from their early days, but more than likely their intent developed slowly through an incubation period that, at the time, looked nothing like the fomentation of a successful business person. (How many people do you suppose who knew Thomas Edison during most of his early years thought that he was all over the place?)
So if most subject matter experts and thought leaders today had their own messy incubation periods, that means that we all still have time to look over our careers to date – at what worked and what didn’t seem to – and see it all as trial and error, steps to nurture our next thing. To encourage the incubation of our own success.
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