A Recipe of the 4 Essential Ingredients of a Successful Career

Bill Abbate


Photo by Racool_Studio from Freepik

Don't you love the way some quotes from the past so succinctly capture the essence of a subject? I especially enjoy quotes created by extraordinarily successful people, little known today, yet who left a legacy of words. One such person is Benjamin Franklin Fairless. Never heard of him? Let me introduce him to you.

His father, a poor coal miner, and mother, a coal miner's daughter, emigrated from Wales to the USA in the 1880s. Settling in Ohio, Fairless was born in 1890 and went on to run the largest corporation in the United States of America at the time, U.S. Steel. He was at the helm from 1938 to 1955. Here is some advice he offered:

"What is the recipe for successful achievement? To my mind there are just four essential ingredients: Choose a career you love.... Give it the best there is in you.... Seize your opportunities.... And be a member of the team. In no country but America, I believe, is it possible to fulfill all four of these requirements." Benjamin Franklin Fairless

Let's look at his four essential ingredients for successful achievement and how they apply today.

Choose a career you love

There is no doubt a person enjoys greater success when they enjoy their work. Yet, how often do we wind up working in a career we love? For many of us, we stumble into the work and industry where we make our career. If you are one of the fortunate few who found the right career straight away, congratulations. Many of us are not as fortunate. But we can become so. How? By searching for and finding a career we can love before it is too late.

This mostly applies to those who are young enough. If you can find that special career, you will live a far more enjoyable life. If you are older and stuck in a career you would rather not be in, you may be able to re-career, or you can learn to love what you do.

This final option of learning to love what you do can happen easiest when you develop an appreciation for your industry, work, and career. Even if you are near the end of your career, this can improve your life.

Most of us will spend 40 or 50 years in our career, so why not find ways to love it? In the end, you will achieve more and benefit your life in the process. If you want to, you can find a way. It's your decision and is up to you to make.

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do." Steve Jobs

Give it the best there is in you

Whenever you give work your best efforts, everyone benefits. Your employer, colleagues, customers, family, and yourself will always fare better when you do the best you can possibly do.

If you love your career, you will enjoy doing your best work and find successful achievements throughout your life.

"Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later." Og Mandino

Seize your opportunities

By loving your work and career and giving it your best, you will undoubtedly create and find many opportunities in life. The attitude that comes from loving what you do and doing your best will help you see the opportunities and propel you into many outstanding life achievements.

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." Seneca

Be a member of the team

To love what you do and do your best, and take advantage of the opportunities you find in life, you need a team. Everyone needs other people, and everyone needs to be on a team to become successful and enjoy and share the success.

Your fellow team members are first those at home, such as your spouse, children, family, and friends. The rest of the team includes those you work for, colleagues, subordinates, and others throughout your career. As said long ago:

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main." John Donne

Final words

Fairless's recipe for successful achievement makes as much sense today as it did nearly 100 years ago. As is true with most success, it helps to have a positive attitude and outlook on life. Having this recipe provides the right ingredients to build that dream career.

Takeaways for this article include:

  • Choose a career you love
  • Give it the best there is in you
  • Seize your opportunities
  • Be a member of the team

I leave you with a final quote as food for thought about your career and life:

"Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out." – John Wooden

I would love to hear your thoughts on Fairless's recipe in the comment section below!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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