A #NextChat question posed earlier this week (along with some virtual commencement speeches) got me thinking about the lessons I've learned in 20 years of corporate life. As seniors navigate the disappointment of proms and graduations lost and young professionals seek entry into an economically compromised corporate world, I figured I would reflect.
Early in my career I was all effort and no theory. I worked tirelessly for 12 hours daily. I took on any project offered me. I was the first to show up and the last to leave. I succeeded and failed. I experienced glory and disappointment. I networked and learned how to utilize technology and played the political game of moving up the ladder. I was uncompromisingly determined and insanely annoying. I wanted everyone to know how smart I was and I would stop at nothing to mention it (directly) to everyone. My heart was in the right place, but my "motivation" looked more like nervous energy.
Do Your Fighting In The Ring
I see it every day in the workplace. Employees who are new to the company that are hell bent on announcing their arrival. This is done through asking multiple leading questions in team meetings (to show off how smart you are), sharing articles you've found on topics of interest (to show how resourceful you are) and reply to all emails across the organization (so everyone knows that you have keen insight). Almost 100% of the people who are loudest in their on-boarding training class are searching for a new job within a year.
I've been in sales my entire career. The skill set of the sales professional is not synonymous with patience. We are extroverted and action oriented. Some of us were even taught that hearing "no" was a way to advancing the conversation (side note: most sales training sucks).
At a certain point in my career my emotional intelligence started to override my ego. I learned to have conversations with people at the level of their peers. People hate sales people, they also love to share with people they trust.
The greatest compliment I can receive from anyone is: you're not like most sales people I've met.
Question Your Motives
It is difficult to do, but bringing self analysis to everything you do is of massive importance. With every action you take, you have to ask yourself, "am I doing this because there is an authentic intent or am I just trying to impress others?" Far too often the answer tends toward the latter but we program ourselves to ignore it. We can't imagine not being seen, especially when others around us are being recognized with pageantry. If you are working for a trophy, you are in it for the wrong reasons.
Self confidence is an act of personal security based in divine introversion. Listening is more important than talking. Leadership is an act of servitude. It is far more important to recognize than to be recognized. We must learn to be humble in victory and accountable in defeat.
Don't Forget to Remember,