Success. Everybody has their own definition of it. Many people view success as having a perfect family behind that white picket fence, others see it as being revered by colleagues, and some find it in the simple things in life. It's a catchall term that drives people to better themselves in the pursuit of happiness. In order to achieve success, one must first determine what success means to them. As I have recently set foot in my career, I constantly ponder what success means to me. I speak on behalf of myself, but I suspect those in similar positions may also find it challenging to truly understand the nuances of leading a successful career.
To gain insight into what it takes to lead a successful career, I decided to contact several successful architects to acquire some first-hand experience. What better way to gain a deep and practical understanding of what it takes to be successful in an industry than by connecting with those who have achieved it? The response was overwhelmingly positive which is a demonstration of our industry's willingness to nurture the next generation. I would like to share some of the key ideas and strategies that surfaced during these conversations.
Supercharge your strengths
In self-perception, we often focus on our weaknesses and seek ways of improving them. However, what we often do not consider is that trying to master only your weak points may prevent you from realising the full potential of your strengths. If you apply the same energy to amplify your strengths, you can see real progress in your career and in your life. Those sitting at the top of their industries are there because they are the very best in a particular area, not simply because they are sufficient in multiple areas. Nobody is going to possess the same strengths and weaknesses as you. It's how you hone your strengths that will set you apart.
Though architecture is an injective field where you create things, the fundamental quality of listening is often overlooked. No matter who it is, put yourself in their position and try to comprehend the underlying motivations behind the words they use. Your attentiveness will build trust and loyalty, which is essential for a successful career.
Taking on new challenges and learning new skills is one of the most important elements in developing your career. The world changes very quickly and will continue to do so as society evolves. Life is not linear but evolves through a series of unpredictable trajectories that should be travelled with curiosity and passion. It is imperative that you stay dexterous with the idea that things will change and constantly educate yourself on whatever it is you are interested in. The discomfort associated with trying new things and visiting unfamiliar places is character building. Novelty is good for the brain, and it builds resilience, which will benefit you in your career.
It is normal to feel out of your depth at the start of your career. You will likely experience an incredible learning curve in the first few months. During this period, it is essential that you learn as much as you can, from the relevant software to how the office works. As you become more engaged, inquire about opportunities to get involved in different areas. Demonstrating this initiative is a sure way to speed up your knowledge intake and ultimately your road to success.
The architecture profession is unique in the sense that it cuts across many areas, from social studies to sustainability, technology, construction, politics, law, history and more. As a result, becoming a successful architect requires a variety of soft and hard skills, many of which can be acquired outside of an architectural environment. Pursuing creative hobbies outside of architecture is a great way to broaden your skill set, ultimately making you a more holistic architect and person. The interpersonal, communication and leadership skills acquired by volunteering in your community or coaching a junior basketball team, for example, can be directly translated into the architecture profession and can contribute to a meaningful career.