From staring in The Office, to writing, producing, directing and starring in her own show, Mindy Kaling has seen more success in her career than most. Oh, and she's also the author of two bestselling books.
In a fireside chat with LinkedIn's Head of Global Diversity, Rosanna Durruthy, Kaling shared three pieces of career advice that transcend every phase of life and apply to every industry. I've built off of each concept with my own experience.
1. Own who you are.
People are drawn to others because they are authentic, relatable and passionate. Unfortunately, you can't be any of those things if you don't have the courage to be yourself.
In her interview, Kaling shared a quote from Quentin Tarantino: "There aren't guilty pleasures, just pleasures." Her point was clear--be yourself and love what you want to love. You shouldn't feel guilty for being yourself.
In life and in work, many of us gravitate away from what we're passionate about because we are afraid of seeming different. There's risk in the unknown so many of us conform and follow paths mapped out by others.
If you want to experience unconventional success, then you have to be willing to stray away from conventional wisdom and dare to be yourself. At the end of the day, the only definition of success that matters is yours.
2. Our actions matter more than we think they matter.
The longer someone experiences success, the easier it is to forget about what it took to get there-- the hard work, sleepless nights, and the bumps and bruises. After a while, we lose an appreciation for the grind and forget the importance of giving back.
You may find yourself saying things like, "I don't have time for that," or "I've got more important things to do."
For Kaling, she quickly realized that she would have never got her start if it weren't for those who took the time to invest in her. Ever since she's made it a point to create possibilities for others.
In my experience, giving has a way of coming full circle -- the universe usually finds a way to reciprocate goodwill towards others. And, what good is success if you have no one to share it with. Giving back helps add meaning a purpose to your career.
3. Focus on focusing.
With more success comes more opportunity. If you're not careful, shiny-object-syndrome can have you chasing pipe-dreams that don't add up to much. One of the best pieces of advice that I received on the subject was to never major in the minors. In other words, don't dabble. Don't let the little things become the big things.
For Kaling, she shared that it was easier to focus earlier on in her career. "When I was 21,22 and broke, it was easy to focus. What was I going to do, stay home and write or go out and not spend money?" Luckiliy for her fans, she chose to write.
On any given day, there are hundreds of distractions that can rob us of our time. Some are avoidable, while others aren't. The key is to reel yourself back in and devote the greatest amount of time each day to the most important task.
The problem with most "do this and you'll be successful" advice, is that it leaves out the most important component--you. Kaling's advice is enduring because it emphasizes the significance of using your own definition of success, giving back, and concentrating your power on what's most important.