By Jim Callahan
I graduated from high school in the lower 25% of my class because I was a lazy and unmotivated student who studied just hard enough to continue to be eligible to play sports.
Well, a funny thing happened on the way to my career. I married my high school sweetheart and we had three wonderful children. During that period, my laziness disappeared and was replaced by a hunger and determination that my guidance counselor wouldn’t have recognized during my school years.
Strange as it might sound, two of the top 10 members of my class ended up working for me and, I must admit, made amazing contributions to my initial success. I will be forever grateful to those who have inspired me—family, friends and colleagues.
So, maybe you’re considering a future in the convenience store industry and, if you’re like me, you didn’t achieve all that you could have in school—and have yet to make your mark in the business world. Even though you may be closer to the starting line than the finish, rest assured, there’s still time to move forward. Of course, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but all of those architects had a plan and stuck to it.
If this advice applies, then that’s what’s required: a plan and the will to stick with it.
Also, there are qualities that are helpful if you’re going to fashion a noteworthy career:
• Pride. Look the part every day when you enter the work place: clean clothes, be well-groomed, have shined shoes, etc.
• Patience. Recognition doesn’t come over night, nor should it. The average workplace recognizes and rewards consistency and just showing up on time nine out of 10 days just doesn’t cut it. Your patience will be tested often but, you will go nowhere until you prove you possess it.
• Determination. We all say we have the drive, but the job makes us prove it—there are no short cuts to success but, there is a proven path and just by reading and ingesting this, you are on that path. Be determined and let nothing discourage you; be the master of your own destiny. Be among the first to arrive and the last to leave.
• Desire. Showing up looking good and on time is merely a start. The desire to make a difference is critical and really quite simple, so volunteer for the tough jobs and do it consistently.
• Confidence. If you don’t have confidence in yourself and your abilities, why would someone else? Confidence is not bravado or bragging. Rather, confidence is the quiet knowledge that you have what it takes to do the job and that you can be better at it than the vast majority of the people who might like to have your job.
• Grit. You will be humbled often in life but, as the late Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, is credited with saying, when asked the secret of success: “When you get knocked down, get back up.”
• No Excuses. Life is hard and it gets harder when we get off to a late start. My late brother Tom was looking at changing careers from that of a meat cutter to an insurance sales person and was lamenting two additional years of education at age 48. He said, “Do you know I’ll be 50 in two years?” The friend replied, “How old will you be in two years if you decide not to do it?”
The convenience store industry is perhaps the finest of all industries that I am familiar with, especially for recognizing and rewarding late bloomers. So, let this be the impetus to kick start your life and your career. Remember, you can do anything with the right education and perseverance.
Jim Callahan has more than 40 years of experience as a convenience store and petroleum marketer. His Convenience Store Solutions blog appears regularly on CSDecisions.com. He can be reached at (678) 485-4773 or via e-mail at [email protected].