History 101: Career Lessons From the World's Top Leaders
by Alina Dizik
Just because icons like Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison aren't alive today, doesn't mean their leadership lessons should be forgotten. And since history always repeats itself, there is some career advice that never seems to change. Here, we take a look at the leadership philosophies of iconic leaders and how they can help you get ahead in your own career.
"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure." – Colin Powell
Career lesson: When it comes to your career, it's impossible to take the easy way out. Most of those who've found success don't have some secret connections that have helped them get ahead. Moving up in a company or building a business is always done the old-fashioned way -- by striving to do your best.
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." – Thomas Edison
Career lesson: Not everyone gets it right 100 percent of the time, and the ability to rebound from career mistakes is just as important as getting it right the first time around. Companies are most interested in workers who can work through problems instead of giving up.
"Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere." – Albert Einstein
Career lesson: These days, innovation is a buzzword, and knowing how to think outside the box is a valuable skill. Companies aren't simply looking to hire clones, so understanding how to differentiate yourself in a corporate environment is a plus.
"Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Career lesson: There's never a perfect day at work, and dwelling on past mistakes or having a negative attitude can prevent you from making progress. Remember that most of your superiors and managers have erred in the past but somehow managed to score that promotion.
"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." – Confucius
Career lesson: Just because a specific career is associated with a high salary or is in demand doesn't mean you should pursue it. Picking a profession you're genuinely interested in always makes it simpler to enjoy your work.
"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." – Mark Twain
Career lesson: Finding great mentors and avoiding those who don't believe in you is a must as you start your career. Whether it's a bullying boss, a jealous co-worker or an unsupportive classmate -- there's never a reason to be weighed down by negative opinions.
"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." – Theodore Roosevelt
Career lesson: Put your all in to your career -- sometimes you will fail, and sometimes you will succeed beyond what you could have imagined. Take risks, make sacrifices, learn from your mistakes and keep going.
"Every now and then go away and have a little relaxation. To remain constantly at work will diminish your judgment. Go some distance away, because work will be in perspective and a lack of harmony is more ready seen." – Leonardo DaVinci
Career lesson: Sometimes, taking a break is just as important as working hard. Getting burned out will be a lot worse for your productivity than simply stepping back once in while.
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Alina Dizik researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.com. Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.