How do you build a good career?

A lot of ink has been spilled on this subject by people far smarter than I, but when it comes to rules of thumb, I don’t think we can do much better than this idea from Peter Drucker:

The question is not, “How to be successful?” The question is, “How to be useful?”

Being useful is hard, because it involves putting our ego aside and doing what the situation asks instead of asking the situation to meet our needs and preferences. For example, a friend of mine used to run a small community college campus. She had to plunge the toilets more than once.

Look at the people whose careers you most admire. Chances are, they’ve looked for ways to be useful and found success along the way.

It’s just one more way in which focusing on others beats focusing on ourselves.