The 4 Ways to Transform Career Mediocrity to Mastery

How many times have you heard it? “The little guy can’t get ahead.” “You have to be born into money to have any.” “I applied to some jobs but never hear back. It’s hopeless.” Anything worth having is going to be a challenge to get, and often the crucial first challenge is challenging ourselves to a different way of thinking. A different approach to yield more effective results.

Are you a subscriber to the belief that jobs and promotions and raises come naturally as a result of showing up or putting in a year or two or three in a position without getting fired? Or do you realize that you can be a viable or superior candidate for promotion or a job hire only to be passed over numerous times by variables outside of your control, meaning you have to stack odds in your favor? Do you stand by waiting for things to change? Or do you set aggressive goals, craft a process and chart a course to achieve them?

Many of us are not adequately forewarned about the challenges facing us when we enter the job market or the ways to best land jobs, network and advance our careers. These are the unwritten rules of the road of life and typically the ones either unknown or ignored by those not wishing to rise from mediocrity.

The roads to mastery, mediocrity and misery are not always so far apart at the onset. We all have goals yet somewhere in the process, the responses to obstacles and the tenacity to endure and persevere are the differentiating factors.

Think of the pursuits you plan as games of chance. There is probability involved in every potential outcome. The choices you make can positively or negatively impact the probability; you have a certain threshold of control over the outcome but cannot determine it alone. As an example, you have applied to a job you feel very qualified for. 1,000 other people applied to the same job – however, because you are unaware of the fact or because it is intangible to you that there are so many other applicants, when you receive nothing but a notice that someone else was selected, you feel slighted and defeated. This can become a pattern. If your odds of landing that job or one like it is 1 in 1,000 (or greater!), how many jobs would you need to apply for in this fashion?

Similarly, if you are a top performer in your current role and there is 1 role up for promotion, you very much are a contender for that spot. However, certainly there are others who are performing well in the same and sometimes different tangible (metrics, results) and intangible (leadership qualities, stretch projects) categories as you. Even if you are 1 of 3 or 5 top candidates, the probability is not inherently with you. You have to do something to tip the scales in your favor.

(1) Realize that the goal you have in mind will take work. You will be tested – sometimes daily – in your resolve. It doesn’t matter if you were the best candidate for something yesterday or six months ago; if you’re not the leader in the race on the day the choice is made you won’t get what you seek. Additionally, you will likely face a litany of setbacks and hurdles and obstacles! You don’t magically lose weight: you make scientific and mathematical adjustments to calorie intake and calories burned by changing diet and adding exercise. And the work doesn’t start there; the real work is after you have lost the initial momentum – what then? You can apply to 100 jobs and not get a one of them – what then? You can network with 50 people in your chosen field and come up with no job opportunities – what then? It’s the steps you take after those setbacks that will determine your probability for success.

(2) Realize that fresh approaches may be required along the way. Applying to jobs online was once all the rage, and then everyone started doing it. Getting a bachelor’s degree was once all the rage; now, furthering education beyond that level is typically required or encouraged. There are likely multiple ways to accomplish your goal; if you hit a brick wall heading from the starting line to the finish line, you must find a way over or around it. If applying to jobs online is not working, what tweaks to your process can you make to increase probability? A video resume? Using social media to network with people and set meetings with those who can give you advice or introduce you to the people you need to know? If “it’s all about who you know and not what you know,” get to know the people who can help guide you based on what you know. In this digital age, they are all out there to be found. Find them. Ask for a meeting so you can glean advice from their experience and your mutual interests. You’ll be surprised that many people are willing to help you – mostly because someone helped them. Not everyone will make the time, but keep plugging until you find some that do. These can lead to great relationships.

(3) Never allow emotion to take you out of process. “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.” We’ve all felt like a situation is hopeless or like giving up from time to time. Get some distance from the situation – even if it’s brief – and do not allow your anger or restlessness or fear to influence your actions in a way that can cause further detriment. Remember, it’s probability, but you do control whether the odds are tipped in or out of your favor every time you make an action.

(4) Never stop moving forward. You placed first in this race – well done! But you’re far from finished. Many of the most successful people do not necessarily view themselves as successful – they are continually seeking additional paths to new goals. Ongoing betterment of oneself, mastery of the current status, striving for more learning and knowledge, sharpening skills – these are activities that do not end. Be willing to try new things to expand your repertoire and keep your losses in their proper place: learnings you take with you on how to chart goals, create the process toward goals, execute and respond to threats. You may lose battles but you win the war because your strategy over time is aided by your own experiences and mistakes and the incredible contributions of others you encounter along the way.

Those who find mastery are thick-skinned who do not allow naysayers and negative events to deter them from their goals. They can “roll with the punches” and keep things in perspective in what is and will be a daily grind to the finish line. They have encountered many and more of the same setbacks as those who accept mediocrity or misery as the final resting place. They just made different choices in the face of those obstacles.

Mastery, mediocrity and misery are outcomes of choices along the way – choices to impact probabilities and responses to results. The beauty in life is that it is ongoing and one can make new, fresh choices to impact the future. Change is unknown, making it scary at times, but if we fear standing still or staying as is more than we fear the change, we will change. Choose wisely.


Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” and sequels “The Salesman Against the World” and “A Salesman Forever” which take the unique approach of serving as sales/leadership books inside of novels showing proven sales principles designed to birth you into the top producer you were born to be. If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to

Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership. You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving.

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail at or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page:


About cvheady007

I am a Christian, Husband, Dad, workaholic and author. Biography Carson Vincent Heady was born in Cape Girardeau, MO, graduated from Southeast Missouri State University and moved to St. Louis in 2001. He has served in sales and leadership across Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Carson is best-selling author of the Birth of a Salesman series, the first book of which was published by World Audience Inc. in 2010. He released The Salesman Against the World in 2014, A Salesman Forever in 2016 and Salesman on Fire in 2020. He is also featured in Scott Ingram’s B2B Sales Mentors: 20 Stories from 20 Top 1% Sales Professionals. Carson is a 7-time CEO/President’s Club winner across 5 roles at AT&T and Microsoft and National Verizon Rockstar winner. He has been recognized as a top social seller at Microsoft and is consistently ranked in the top 25 sales gurus in the world on Rise Global. He is included among the Top 50 sales authors on LinkedIn. With over 330K social followers, Carson has also been interviewed on over 30 sales and leadership podcasts, by such luminaries as Jeffrey & Jennifer Gitomer, Jeb Blount, Brandon Bornancin, Sam Dunning, Larry Levine, Darrell Amy, Scott Ingram, Thierry van Herwijnen, Jim Brown, Sam Jacobs, Luigi Prestinenzi, Donald Kelly, Marylou Tyler, George Leith, Pat Helmer, Eric Nelson, Ron Tunick, Jeff Arthur, Mary Ann Samedi, Jean Oursler, Andre Harrell, Marlene Chism, Bill Crespo, Matt Tanguay, Josh Wheeler and Chad Bostick. He has also co-hosted the Smart Biz Show on EG Marketing Radio. His articles have appeared in several noteworthy publications such as SalesGravy, Smash! Sales, Salesopedia and the Baylor Sports Department S3 Report. Carson lives in St. Louis, MO, with his wife Amy and daughters Madison, Sidonia and Charlotte.
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