Success is hard work; it's too easy when keeping your head down and barreling forward to blow by some of your important achievements. Looking back on a 30-plus year career spanning various ventures, I can now see signals I missed, accomplishments of mine I under-appreciated. I share seven of these realizations now so they don't go unnoticed by you.
Give yourself full credit for just how successful you might not have known you are. Reflect and revel in these seven under-the-radar milestones.
1. Your first step down that new career path.
Having coached more people than I can remember, I can tell you not everyone will make the leap to do that "other thing" that's calling them. Myriad excuses and concerns will rise up to keep those people down, to keep them from choosing the path not chosen.
We do so much in life born out of either love or fear, fear too often born out of practicality. If you've taken even the first step in starting a new job, in a new field, in launching your own business, congratulations--it's a big deal. The rest of your life awaits.
2. The first time you had others reporting to you.
Managing others isn't just a responsibility, it's a privilege. If you've earned the right, it means someone believed in you enough to entrust the learning, growth, and livelihood of other human beings to you.
You won't forget that first job where you were called "boss." It's when we cut our teeth and begin to form some of our most important leadership philosophies. If you've recently earned this privilege, treat it as one of the most important jobs you'll ever have. Because it is.
3. The first time you let someone go (that wasn't an easy call).
Surprised by this one? Presuming you do this with grace and dignity, it's as much a milestone as anything else. It means you're being brave, responsible, and caring--enough so that you want to free someone up who isn't a good fit to go on to something where they can thrive.
Some of the most heartfelt feedback I've ever gotten was from people who I had to let go. They were able to find a place where they could shine and were thankful for it. Be discerning. Be direct. But above all, have their best interests at heart.
4. Your first hire.
Hiring decisions are some of the most important decisions we ever make as a leader. If you're an entrepreneur and you make that first hiring decision, it says you're wise enough to know you can't do it alone, and it's the first step towards building something great. If you're a leader in corporate, that first hire is the sign of real responsibiilty.
In either scenario, you're giving someone an oportunity and possibly changing the trajectory of their life. It's a watershed moment to be proud of.
5. The first time you stood up for what you believe in and it wasn't a popular point of view.
Leading a startup or any business is far easier when everyone around you agrees with your direction and point of view. But what happens when they don't and your unique point of view gets challenged? Welcome to a lifetime of self-integrity that doesn't come easy, but feels intensely authentic.
6. The first time you realized you'd made real progress on a weakness.
Congratulations, you've shown you have the capacity to learn and grow, to take difficult-to-hear feedback, to own up to a shortfall and attack it with zest. Give me one person who's progressing on a weakness over 1,000 that act like they don't have one.
7. When you were able to clearly articulate what brings you meaning in your work.
And when you facilitate doing far more of it. Everything that matters pivots off of this, your happiness, your fulfillment, your professional progression on things that matter to you, and your ability to live in support of your values.
So look back on these milestones so you have more confidence moving forward. You're kind of a big deal.