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Career Success Theory


i do not claim to have been born with a halo, chanting hymns or solutions to life. After a lot of trial and error I did manage to stumble into a formula that worked for me and keeps me going. Along the path, several well wishers and mentors have given me interesting directions and inputs. Some made sense, some had to be adapted and some obviously left by the way side.


One such input is the Three Bucket Theory and I think this is relevant to a lot of others out there in the world and so would like to share this with everyone. Here goes!


A typical career spans three decades plus starting from the 20’s and going on till the 50’s. These thirty odd years should be split up into three buckets or segments of ten years each.


In the First Bucket, one needs to focus on learning. This learning should be all encompassing and not self limiting in any manner. One should have an open mind and learn about the working styles, organization styles, people, communication, teams, practical tips, etc. In short anything new and unknown needs to be explored and learnt in depth. Herein lies an inherent trap. Most youngsters who start their career are educated and have spent a past decade and a half learning or rather studying. Often, they mistake this studying to be a substitute for learning and more dangerously act as if there is very little if at all anything left to learn.


I quote an old Tamil adage: “What one learns is usually a fistful, whereas what is left to be learnt is an entire universe”. Anyone operating with this thought during the first bucket would stand to benefit immensely in the other buckets. A word of caution though — remember learning never stops throughout life. However, during the First Bucket the focus should be consciously on learning and not on designations, compensations, matching up to peers, besting colleagues, etc.


During the Second Bucket one has the opportunity to become an expert. If there has been extensive learning in the First Bucket one would be clear about all strengths and weaknesses and also is in a position to judge which of the learning can be leveraged best for personal success.


Becoming an expert requires one to have extensive and intensive experience in the field of choice, spanning first hand front line experience to overall strategic exposure. This gives one a true perspective and makes one an expert and also nurtures a deep rooted maturity with regards to all expertise.

 3 Replies


Again during the Second Bucket the focus should be on exploring opportunities which allow in-depth exposure to fine tune expertise and one should not necessarily be driven by monetary or other considerations.


If these two phases are managed well and one develops true deep rooted expertise, the Third Bucket is the easiest part of a successful career. In this Bucket, one needs to work towards personal branding by sharing acquired expertise in public forums and through professional networks. When this is done properly all kinds of success including material prosperity follows even if one does not wish for the same.



Given the increasing life expectancy nowadays, I have added a Fourth Bucket to this theory. During the fourth phase one should consciously work towards giving back to the society. It could be by sharing one’s expertise and experience for public good through NGOs or with promising youngsters to create a better future.


My personal view is that there is no success formula and as such this should not be taken as gospel truth. This is a direction. Take it, craft it, mould it to suit your personality and hopefully you would create your own version of the Three Bucket Theory as pass it on to others.

CA Archana (Mamager Finance & Accounts)   (365 Points)
Replied 24 May 2010

Thanks for such a good write-up

1 Like

Replied 12 October 2010


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