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career_path_startYour past shapes everything you do. There are no accidents but rather just valuable lessons wrapped up in sometimes unexpected packaging. To quote one of my favorite musicians, David Byrne, “You may ask yourself, how did I get here?”

It’s interesting to be in industry where people have landed either by chance or design. In my eleven-plus years at Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® I have colleagues who have been teachers and lawyers. I know some who sing, act and paint during their free time. I know some who have built houses, tutored children and raised phenomenal amounts of money for those in need, and I would venture to guess that each one of those people gleaned something from each one of those experiences that makes them better at their job today.

If I were a type-A personality I might have a more perfectly chartered resume. Instead, my curriculum vitae is dotted with unexpected stops along the way, where I have collected valuable knowledge, dear friends and some good ol’ common sense. With jobs ranging from drawing story boards for a television promotions company to writing product descriptions about furniture and home furnishings, I’ve covered some fairly oddball territory. As an aside, if you ever want to learn more about eight-way, hand-tied sofa springs just give me a shout.

Even though these past jobs have little (if anything) to do with what I do now, my extracurricular activities have certainly played a role. During one of my earlier job transitions I was enrolled at The Second City Conservatory. If you are unfamiliar with Second City, it’s an improvisational comedy institution in Chicago. Without any theater background whatsoever I auditioned and within a year-and-a-half I graduated. Listing this little nugget on my resume resulted in the single best interview question I have ever been asked: “What have you learned at Second City that could be applied to your current job?”

Here is how I would answer it today:

Be Agreeable
Sure, it might not be your idea, it might not even be a good idea, but go with it. It’s probably impossible to believe, but you can’t always be right. Accept the curveball being lobbed your way and try your best to knock it out of the park.

Play Nice
Remember that time you felt great about yourself after treating someone poorly? Me neither. Be kind, if for nothing other than self-preservation.

Be Prepared to Fail
It’s not about how badly you screw up; it’s about how well you recover from it. Don’t dwell; move forward and do it with purpose.

Think Quickly, Act Carefully
Don’t leave people hanging; even if you have to do a little tap dancing, respond promptly to let someone know that you are working on it.

Support, Support and then Support Some More
You don’t need to be the star of the show; support everyone around you to such a degree that they can’t perform without you. Supporting stars shine just as brightly.

If we all took the same path getting here it would be a rather bland landscape wouldn’t it? Your personality and your career are formed by the pieces you pick up along the journey.

Picking up a healthy sense of humor certainly can’t hurt.

Beth_Kinsella_LeadingREBeth Kinsella, Member Solutions Manager, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®.