One aspect of working at Accenture that I truly enjoy is the seemingly endless network of brilliant and fascinating individuals which I am able to interact with each and every day. A little while back, I had the unique opportunity to participate in a panel discussion with two Senior Executives where Analysts such as me were able to pick the brains of individuals who have found real success at this firm. During the discussion, which was held virtually in Chicago and Minneapolis offices using videoconferencing technology, the Senior Executives each outlined their career with the company and how they came to be where they are today. Although their stories were very different, I found them both to be incredibly fascinating and inspiring for my own career. In my time here at Accenture, I have come to realize that there are few resources more valuable than the anecdotes and advice from those who seem to have seen it all over the years.
While I feel I gained a good deal of valuable perspective from that discussion, there was one point which seemed to resonate with me long after I had gone home for the day. An analyst in the Chicago conference room asked both panelists what personal beliefs have guided them the most on their career paths, and what advice they give regarding those beliefs. The response from the Senior Executive out of the Minneapolis office was, to me, both surprising and incredibly inspirational.
After reflecting on the question for a moment, he responded that every year he tells himself that this year will be his final one with the company. He has held this conviction annually for most of the preceding two decades. Upon hearing this, I was a little dumbfounded. However, before I had a chance to read into this statement in too much detail, he explained himself. He said early in his career he had a constant focus on the impact every action he took might have had on the rest of his career. Every move he made was carefully thought out to ensure that it was in line with his long term goals with the company. While this career-oriented thought process is beneficial for ensuring he always knew what direction he was heading, he found it was tiring to maintain and somewhat restrictive. Eventually, he reached a point where he decided it would be his final year with the company and as such, he would no longer be risk averse. He began to make decisions based on what he believed to be right, even if it was risky or unpopular. And, without the constant thought of damaging his career, he began to really start enjoying himself. He explained that when he maintained a focus on what’s next in his career, he set arbitrary goals for himself which imposed unnecessary pressure and stress. But by adopting a mindset that every year was his final, he was able to focus instead on the work itself. In doing so, he found he was happier and more successful.
For me, this was a valuable and inspiring lesson. After reflecting on his story, I’m making an effort to adopt a similar attitude. Granted, I have no intentions of making this my last year with the company. But once I am able to let myself be comfortable with the unknown in my career, I can instead fully focus on work which has the potential to make it something special.