10 Lessons for a Fulfilling Career

At Wave, we constantly have an eye out for exceptional talent and like to surround ourselves with awesome individuals whenever possible. One of those opportunities is our monthly Women @Wave session, an hour devoted to reflecting on and learning from the experiences of inspiring women of different backgrounds in their personal and professional lives.

A few months ago, we had the amazing Christine Andrews in to share her story (which in turn, she shared here), and most recently, we were visited by Emily Rayson.

The simplest way to condense Emily’s many remarkable roles and achievements is to say that she grew up up in the internet world and just rocked it. She did this while raising three sons and taking leadership roles volunteering at a number of not-for-profit organizations. Emily began her career as Account Manager at one of Toronto’s first new media agencies, launched Canada’s first dot-com site, both consulted and co-directed companies, and, most recently, has moved from a Managing Director role at Organic, to Strategic Consultant at EPost and then found her home as Chief Operating Officer at CanadaStays, Canada’s leading vacation rental company.

Emily shared some of the biggest lessons she’s learned (occasionally through serendipitous “eureka moments,” and sometimes, well, the hard way). The ten takeaways she left us below are powerful little reminders to make us a little bit braver, and little bit stronger as we carve out our career path.

“…you can stay or become whoever you want to be, when it comes to your values and aspirations, but recognizing and being open to external situations evolving will give you the freedom to actively shape your path.”

1. Luck has a lot to do with success

Certainly not everything to do with success, but sometimes opportunities are reserved for the person in the right place at the right time. The best course of action is to recognize a lucky moment and work as hard as you can to turn it into a lifetime of accomplishments… and work hard to have those lucky moments keep showing up.

2. Put yourself out there and take the risk. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

Rejection is hard, and it’ll find all sorts of ways to hit us in both our professional and personal lives. What’s even harder is looking back and wondering what you could have gained and accomplished if you weren’t afraid of hearing “no”.

3. Be really, really good with change

Being able to adapt is the name of the game. You can stay or become whoever you want to be, when it comes to your values and aspirations, but recognizing and being open to external, evolving situations will give you the freedom to actively shape your path.

4. Try not to say ‘no’ so quickly. Step back from a gut reaction and do some ‘what if’ scenarios, even if it’s just for a few minutes

Be relentlessly curious. Be open to possibilities that you can not only create, but those lucky little opportunities that show up on your doorstep every now and then. It never hurts to either reaffirm what you want to be pursuing, or consider taking on a new challenge.

5. Know your weaknesses and surround yourself with people who are experts in those areas

Good news! You don’t have to be great at everything. Even better, you don’t even have to be halfway decent at most things! What you have to do is acknowledge where you’re not strong enough, and find someone who can fill those gaps for you.

6. Get outside your comfort zone every once in a while

Say ‘yes’ to circumstances you might not have considered, or that sound scary, and you’ll learn more about yourself than you ever could have imagined. Trust that once you’re in, you’ll figure it out.

7. Find a quick win

Whether you’re new at a company, or feel stagnant in a current role, look for the quick win and focus on making that happen. You’ll gain a level of confidence from your team and get some momentum going for more intensive, long term projects.

8. Learn to compartmentalize

This one isn’t for everyone. Some people thrive when they decide that their personal life is best blended with the professional. For others, there’s sanity (not to mention productivity) to gain by creating different places in your mind for work, home, and yourself, and you need to be able to lock those places in so that you can really be in the moment.

9. A partner/support network is CRITICAL

As previously mentioned, there’s just no way we can do everything ourselves, or at least do everything well. There’s so much value in having a person, or a group of individuals around you to confide in, encourage you… and call you on your shenanigans every once in a while.

10. Outsource the small stuff

Reserve as much time in your day for your biggest and most fulfilling priorities. Delegate wherever you can and find efficiencies wherever you can when a task is essential, but low on the scale of what you want to be accomplishing.