The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers

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"Cracks the code for career advancement."
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Overview: The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers

“You don't just luck into things as much as you'd like to think you do. You build step by step, whether it's friendships or opportunities.”
-- Barbara Bush

“We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like?”
-- Jean Cocteau

The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers reveals the subtle yet powerful factors that determine career success: why some people ascend to the top and prosper, while others equally talented never reach their expectations.

The idea that there are patterns in extraordinary careers is not conventional wisdom. Many believe that success is the result of either luck or larceny.

It turns out that extraordinary careers follow a strikingly consistent trajectory, marked by five distinct patterns that distinguish the very top from the rest of the pack.

So what are the five patterns of extraordinary careers? They are as follows:

1. Understand the Value of You
People with extraordinary careers understand how value is created in the workplace, and translate that knowledge into action, building their personal value over each phase of their careers.

2. Practice Benevolent Leadership
People with extraordinary careers do not claw their way to the top, they are carried there.

3. Overcome the Permission Paradox
People with extraordinary careers overcome one of the great Catch-22s of business: you can't get the job without experience and you can't get the experience without the job.

4. Differentiate Using the 20/80 Principle of Performance
People with extraordinary careers do their defined jobs exceptionally well but don't stop there. They storm past pre-determined objectives to create breakthrough ideas and deliver unexpected impact.

5. Find the Right Fit (Strengths, Passions & People)
People with extraordinary careers make decisions with the long-term in mind.  They willfully migrate towards positions that fit their natural strengths and passions and where they can work with people they like and respect. 


Perhaps no lesson in The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers is more important than the power of career knowledge and action. Taking positive actions in a career really does result in positive impact, allowing the patterns of extraordinary careers to manifest themselves. But, as so many careers have shown, positive outcomes from positive actions are rarely immediate. This is an idea we call Detached Impact.

In your career, if you create real value for your organization(s), you will almost always be rewarded for it, but not always immediately.

The journey of a successful career is similar to chopping down a great tree. You swing the ax countless times, noticing only minor progress – with many swings, none at all. In the end, there is only one swing that is successful in bringing down the tree, but it is the thousand prior swings that make the achievement possible. Every swing, no matter how immediately visible its impact, is important in the process.

As you change your thinking and begin to take action to implement the 5 Patterns, you may see little immediate impact. But, like each swing of the ax, this is not at all failure. In a career, success must be measured by the positive actions that are taken, not the immediate results. In the short term, rewards are not highly correlated with specific actions but over the long term, they are inseparable. Just as compound interest gains accelerating power over time, so too does the impact of following the success patterns.

Understanding the five patterns of extraordinary careers and tailoring them to you - your personality, aspirations, personal situation and strengths and weaknesses - is well worth it and will help you accomplish the ultimate payoff -- career success and satisfaction under your control and beyond your grandest expectations.

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This extract is taken from
The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers by James M. Citrin and Richard A. Smith, published by Random House. Order your copy now!


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