When I started my career in IT in June 2000, I left behind a successful career as a police sergeant. In fact, I’d been a detective and had passed the exams to become an inspector. The problem was I no longer enjoyed the job I once loved, and nothing was going to change that fact. I needed a career change.
So, I started my helpdesk job, which was a three hour drive from where I lived. I also took a huge pay cut despite having a family to support and a mortgage to pay.
My situation was now this: I was a 30-year-old man working with people in their early 20s. I was living on around 60% of what I was earning previously, but my costs had gone up significantly because I had to rent a room in a house during the week and then catch the train home on weekends.
I was told that everyone had to work on the helpdesk for 12 months before they would be considered for a move to a higher tier of support or another team. And yet, three months later, I had passed my Microsoft MCSE. I was taken off the helpdesk and put onto a network support team. A few weeks after that, I was working for Cisco systems doing WAN support. Two years later, I was running my own IT consultancy company, which I later sold.
Many of the people I’d been working with over the years were doing the same job all this time. Most had taken no certification exams but were very worried about job security and their long-term career prospects. Most of them were smarter and more talented than me, but nothing had changed for them.
So, what was the difference between them and me?
Well, I can tell you it wasn’t natural ability. I was at best an average IT engineer. I was surrounded by some really smart people who could easily master subjects and concepts that would take me weeks to understand. It wasn’t down to who I knew because I wasn’t a friend of any of the bosses. In fact, any time I went for a promotion interview, I failed. I didn’t have more time than anybody else due to long commutes to work and long working hours.
Looking back, it all came down to one simple thing: Ambition.
The ambitious person will win every time because they are hungry for it. “It” being whatever goal they are trying to achieve. The ambitious person will do whatever it takes. You won’t see them making excuses or complaining about how hard it is. Others will call them lucky or ask them why they are so motivated, but that question has no answer.
Think about people who have achieved success against the odds: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Branson, Barack Obama, and so on.
I can’t tell you how many times people have come on one of my IT courses or joined my website to take an exam and quit. The figures would frighten you, in fact. I can tell the ambitious ones because they turn the TV off. They spend hours every night doing labs, taking exams, and contributing on the forum.
I see them posting their success stories on the forum and then telling us which exams they are taking next. They are getting the promotions at work and being head hunted by the big companies.
Ambition comes from getting clear on why you would want to pass your exams. For me, it meant I could support my family, be closer to them, and find more rewarding and fulfilling work as compared to being a helpdesk monkey having to ask permission to leave my desk to go to the toilet.
The enemy of a great life is a comfortable life. If we have a reasonable standard of living, then the chances are we won’t feel motivated unless there is some pain in there. I’ve told you what my pain was at the start.
Change is coming for all of us, so it’s up to you to prepare for it before it happens.
I hope it helps.