At this semester’s Career Conversations event hosted by the Career Center and Politics Department, Politics alumni discussed their careers in business. Alumnus Nathan Shive offered some great advice for current students on how to succeed in any career through the application of five “fundamentals.” Watch the video below from the event or read the post below for how you can apply these key concepts to your career path.

In the fall of 2008 I was asked, out of sheer desperation, to coach my daughter’s youth basketball team. Anybody who has been involved with youth sports knows that among the many challenges is the vast disparity of talent found on any given roster. Some kids are the “jocks” and take a more visible role, others show potential, others try as hard as they can, others want to learn, and others simply don’t care.

Assigned a roster of 5th and 6th-grade girls that reflected this diversity, I adopted the strategy of simplifying the game to the lowest common denominator. First, I taught them the five positions, each numbered 1 through 5 – point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, center. They were taught (with varying degrees of success) the role of each position, with the hope being that if I sent one of them into the game with instructions to “be the ‘three’,” they would know what that meant.

As for the play itself, and recognizing that young and inexperienced players may be overwhelmed and perhaps intimidated by the apparent complexity of the game, I emphasized that there were also five “fundamentals” that anyone could master, regardless of their age, height or ability.

• Hustle – they were expected to hard on every play, regardless of the score, the match-ups, or their perceived probability of success. “Nobody,” I shouted repeatedly, “will beat our team down the floor!”

• Motion – they were asked to keep moving on every play, particularly on offense. Don’t stand around waiting for someone to pass you the ball – move and get open, not only to help your teammates, but to make the player guarding you work that much harder.

• Learn – you don’t know everything, and you will make mistakes. Learn from them, as well as from your teammates, your opponents, and your coaches. Amateurs practice until they can do it right; professionals practice until they can’t do it wrong.

• Teamwork – You were either on the court or on the bench, but everyone was in the game. The players on the floor had to work together; the players on the bench were to encourage their teammates and pay attention to what was happening, so they knew what to do when I put them in the game.

• Defense – Admittedly, perhaps more of a learned skill, but we played mostly man-to-man defense, and in that system your job is to stay with your opponent. Anybody can make that effort.

As young adults preparing to embark on what will hopefully be a long-term career, you can apply these same fundamentals to whatever path you choose, particularly if you want to rise above mediocrity and make a difference in your life and the lives of others. As has been said before, successful people do what unsuccessful people won’t do.

♦ Hustle – Work harder than everybody else. Hopefully, you can find a career that rewards you for this and doesn’t place artificial time constraints on your success.

♦ Motion – Keep moving, don’t stand still. If you remain in the same place, others will pass you. Look to take on new challenges and opportunities.

♦ Learn – From everything around you. Every event in your life, work-related or not, provides learning opportunities. You want to repeat successes, and avoid future failures, to take the time to learn from both.

♦ Teamwork – Use all the resources available. Develop alliances with your colleagues and professionals in other fields. Build a network of contacts; don’t try to know (or do) everything yourself.

♦ Defense – Protect what you have built. Years of work can be wiped out in a moment’s misjudgment. Your first responsibility should be to strengthen and reinforce your foundation before you build onto it.

A career built on these five fundamentals is well on its way to long-term success. The final piece, however, may be the most important – find something bigger than yourself. Whether a church, a charity, a service organization or a community endeavor, become a part of something that is certain to last longer than you. The more you give of yourself, the more you will receive, and having this element as a central portion of your life will provide the proper balance to your career endeavors.

Written by Nathan P. Shive, Agency Sales Director and Investment Adviser Representative with PennWood Financial Group