When it comes to describing the road to corporate success, words like focus, vision, determination, and grit are commonly used. Those who blaze trails to the top move fast and exercise power to transform the status quo.

These characteristics are often necessary in a competitive environment—and even advocated. Rachel Truair understands this element of trailblazing. She didn’t become the Director of Americas Marketing at Adobe for Magento Commerce without having determination and vision.

But Rachel says her success also required other traits—traits that require the opposite mindset. Blazing ahead may drive you forward faster, but the trail your blaze is useless if you don’t create a path for others to follow. Without laying the bricks for a path to success, your hard work won’t make a difference. Your leadership will have diminished impact. There will be no positive growth at scale.

It’s this dichotomy to the way you approach your work that creates the greatest success. Rachel expanded on this marriage of seeming opposites in a recent interview. Rachel describes it as being “both a trailblazer and a bricklayer.”

Rachel learned early that forging ahead towards your goals is necessary for success.

“Throughout my youth I was passionate about riding horses. I graduated a year early from high school to pursue my dream of riding horses for a living.

“I had a mentor who taught me everything I knew about riding. We started a stable in Austin that is still in operation today—Madrone Ranch Stables.

“We truly believed in the purpose behind what we were doing—building a community in Austin where people could learn to ride horses and have fun doing so. Although it was a very challenging four years of my life, it solidified my confidence in myself to forge ahead. To be unafraid to start something from nothing.”

Rachel acknowledges her success results from her own power to build something new. She’s also observant enough to recognize those who have laid the bricks to create paths for her to follow.

“My current manager and Adobe’s Vice President of Enterprise Marketing, Andrea Ward, is someone who has undoubtedly helped shape my career.

“Andrea leads global marketing across all of Adobe’s enterprise products. I admire her ability to be a working mother in technology. She treats everyone with kindness and respect. She also stays true to her values and is unafraid to pursue her goals.

“Another person who has influenced my career path is my mother. She ran marketing at Texas Monthly magazine for 26 years. She was known for her inventive creativity and “get it done” attitude. She’s the original Trailblazer in my life. She’s also influenced many other women’s careers who worked with her.

“I was also lucky to work with a Trailblazing CEO who encouraged me to push through the jungle of uncertainty,” Rachel says.

As her career progressed, Rachel learned that constant forward momentum—trailblazing only— is not the best approach.

“We work hard and juggle quite a bit—the classic Ginger Rogers quip that we have to dance backwards in high heels comes to mind.

“But for myself, I have learned that my focus and commitment can come at the expense of my inner peace if I don’t recognize when it is time to let go. It is a critical part of creating space for something else—something better. Something better could be an additional moment of quiet in your day, or a future career that is more rewarding than you ever thought possible.”

Rachel believes in the necessity of balancing Trailblazing and Bricklaying.

“My belief, having worked in the smallest of startups to large Fortune 100s, is that organizations need employees who can both blaze trails and lay bricks.

“Everyone has a natural instinct toward one or the other. By being self aware, you can develop the other one more intentionally.”

Rachel will go more deeply into how you can develop these skills at WCA’s GetSmart.

Join us to learn from Rachel’s talk, Are You a Trailblazer or Bricklayer? Practical Knowledge for Discovering Your Path & Paving the Way during Session III of Get Smart. She will explore the nontraditional thinking and unexpected career path that helped her maneuver to corporate success. She will also share concrete takeaways on how you can blaze your own trail and lay your brick path for the others that follow.

Dawn Weathersbee