Joining the dots of success

Careers and businesses don’t develop along a straight line. If you plot their milestones or turning points most would resemble a child’s join-the-dot picture with scattered points and no clear pattern. The picture doesn’t begin to emerge until you start making connections between the points.

These connections can take many real-life forms. They could include personal and business networks or linking ideas and industry fields. Sometimes the connections don’t make sense at first or they may lead to dead-ends. However, they can also lead toward rich and innovative creations.

Changing direction

When you begin your journey, you’ll have an idea of what you want your success picture to look like and where the milestone points will be. So, naturally, you’ll start to head toward your first milestone. Then the second one and so on. Chances are, though, that at some point obstacles will arise and your intended direction will be blocked.

Maybe you’ll lose your main source of funding? Maybe industry trends will shift away from what you’re doing? Maybe you’ll be let down by unreliable people?

Whatever the obstacle, this is the point where you’ll have to make some quick decisions. Do you give up and turn back or do you reach out and make other connections that lead you on a slightly different pathway?

Developing your connections

To be successful in your ongoing personal and business development, it is essential to be constantly making connections with both people and ideas. Say you’ve started a career in nursing, as you progress, keep an eye out for other fields you could venture into. They might be completely different to those you originally envisioned.

One way to do this is by joining a range of interest groups on LinkedIn. Through these, you can keep up-to-date with developments and job offers in other industries. For example, you might spot amazing opportunities in developing health policies or community education programs. If they genuinely interest you and you believe you have the experience to make a difference in those areas, why not follow your instincts and change direction at this point? Weigh up the risks as you may find you have nothing to lose and much to gain.

What if you run a business adversely affected by changes in technology and trends, such as the offset printing industry? What do you do?

Again, if you’re flexible and open to new possibilities, you can pivot to entirely new directions that connect you to new clients. Maybe you could specialise in niche printing areas like embossing or gold-foiling for up-market, bespoke invitations. Or you could embrace new digital printing technologies and offer them to clients in different markets.

Having a sound network of connections can be extremely valuable in situations like these. You might come across a start-up business that could benefit from your experience or you could bounce ideas off mentors from other industries.

Sow before you reap

The key to making your connections work is to be prepared to share your ideas and resources with others. Give first, even if there is no immediate or obvious benefit for you. Sometimes, the help you offer one person may be given back to you tenfold by someone else, often when you least expect it.

Your unique picture

As you gradually make connections between your milestone points, you’ll start to see your picture develop. Stop and have a good look at it periodically. What at first might seem like a random collection of dots and lines will become a magnificent creation you can be truly proud of. Whether it’s your organisation or your life’s direction, it’s also your own personal masterpiece. What will yours look like?

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Sam Cobb is a lady who has successfully joined the dots through the various turning points in her own career. Starting as a research scientist in a biotech lab, Sam has switched directions several times as opportunities presented themselves in management, business development and intellectual property law. She is the founding CEO of AdAlta and was the driving force behind floating the company on the ASX and raising $10m in the process.

In her recent podcast interview on The Mentor List, Sam shares how her strong network, resilience and resourcefulness helped her negotiate many obstacles and create amazing opportunities. She also shares many tips that may help you on your own journey to success. You won’t want to miss this episode!


Kick start your personal journey to success from the conversations David has with his inspirational guests on The Mentor List.

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