I do not believe in a formulaic view of success. There is no formula for a great career or a wonderful life. There are simply too many variables. Too much randomness. Too many opportunities to screw up, to take the wrong path, to make the wrong decision.

As if that isn’t enough, everyone is different. What’s right for one individual is totally wrong for another. That’s why endless debates on how much education you should have or whether you should be an entrepreneur or not are essentially worthless.

That’s one of the reasons why I don’t buy into the self-help genre or business books in general. I don’t care if they’re inspirational, motivational or research-based. They’re all formulaic or they never get published or read. Books without a hook don’t make it these days.

Watching the NFL playoffs on Sunday, one thing decidedly not football-related got my attention. A two word message printed in boldface letters on the game plan of one of the team’s head coaches: Be You.

Look. When it comes to your career, talent matters. Smarts matter. Work ethic matters. Intuition matters. Salesmanship matters. Mentorship matters. Relationships matter. Experience matters. And being in the right place at the right time certainly matters.

I can rattle off all sorts of factors that will affect the outcome for you. But there’s an old saying in the NFL: Any team can beat any other team on any given Sunday. And that’s the truth.

If you follow what anyone else tells you, you’re just following someone else’s playbook. Don’t do it. Do what’s right for you. Follow the path that’s right for you. That’s what really matters.

Like I always say, Real Leaders Don’t Follow. Be you. Same thing.

Image credit Wayne Williamson via Flickr