As we race, kicking and screaming toward Christmas and then quickly reach the end of the first decade of the 21st century, I can’t help but reflect on lessons learned in the past 10 years. Some of them have been pleasurable events in my life. Others have left scars (such as Sept 11th, 2001 and the Great Recession) that may never heal completely. History books will record the last 10 years of human history with a somber tone, I think. Ultimately though, “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is very much true and once in a great while, experience teaches us a lesson that can only be described as an axiom or a truism.
It is what it is.
You can do your best to try and understand its origins or debate its basis-for-being in theory, but if you ask me, that’s just a complete waste of everyone’s time. You’re better off just accepting it and understanding what it is - an empirical observation – and try to benefit from its implications.
I’m not a big believer in making New Year’s resolutions. You place pressure on yourself to reach some goal that is at best, “arbitrary and capricious”.
But there are some observations and lessons learned in the past decade that I think do hold water.
Ok, look… I know some (maybe a lot) of this stuff is going to straddle philosophy and psychology, but there’s a darn good reason for that. While they are indeed “real world” observations, they were perceived through a filter that is at the very least, subjective, for better or worse. And it includes a few strange and diverse influences.
So, while there are elements here of Taoism, a little Freudian theory, some Ayn Rand, and maybe “What Got you here won’t get you there”, make no mistake: they’re all practical lessons that can help your career … or even change your life:
- If you don’t know, say so. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, stop talking. It’s more obvious to everyone than you think.
- Whether negotiation is strong or weak depends entirely on your goals. If you don’t have that goal in mind, your true inner strength will never show through.
- Don’t jump ship before you hit the iceberg. While the Titanic made history with its collision, there were hundreds of ships that crossed those waters just fine.
- Anger is never about what you think you’re angry about. While not true ALL of the time, it’s true more times than you probably want to admit to yourself or anyone else.
- Confidence comes from success, knowledge comes from failure. Both are valuable.
- A**hole is a subjective noun.
- If you’re miserable, quit and do something else. If you’re still miserable, don’t blame the job or your family or your friends or your parents or your life. It’s you.
- Success is based on current behavior, not past performance. Past performance will get you there…but it’s not going to keep you there. The sooner you realize that, the better.
- If you protect your domain or CYA, that’s all you’ll accomplish. It’s a full time job just trying to do that.
- Thin-skinned people are actually thick-headed. They’ll prove it to you often. See #1 again.
- People won’t perform for those they don’t respect. Ever.
- If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, you won’t be successful at it. Life is too short not to do what makes you passionate. Go find it.
- When you have problems with others, look inside yourself for answers. Many times we already have the answer, we’re just afraid to face it.
- The workplace is about business, not you. The workplace is about business, not you. The workplace is about business, not you.
- Conflict is healthy; anger is not. Get some help for that. Seriously.
- No matter how smart you are, wisdom only comes from experience. It is and always will be, a hard earned education.
- Whine and complain all you want; I have news for you…nobody gives a crap.
- You can BS others but you really can’t BS yourself. Go look in the mirror and see if it REALLY sounds as good as you think it does.
- The boss isn’t always right, but he/she’s still the boss…and that’s the way the game is played.
- The customer isn’t always right, but he’s still the customer. That’s your paycheck walking in the door…or out the door.
So…if any of this comes across as sort of up-in-your-face preachy, I want you to know, that’s not my intent.
It’s not my desire or job to indoctrinate anyone, and I’m not interested in doing it anyway. But if I can just help you navigate this complex and challenging working world and make the next decade just a little better than the last, all the better.
Come to think of it, while I think their meanings should be self-evident - at least after some reflection - I’m probably not the best judge of that. Take from it what you will, but with the best of intentions.
This has been quite a year on many counts. I am proud of the accomplishments of my school teams and humbled with the honor of serving as the Chairman of our Association this past year. I can’t imagine working with a finer group of people, on both counts.
Thank you for the chance to “talk” with you each week through these episodes and reflections. I’ve been told that this column gives the CVTA website the highest number of hits they get each week. That’s humbling and I thank you for that.
This column will be off next week, so the next time we talk we’ll be facing a whole new decade. I can’t wait to see what’s out there!
May 2011, full of both new challenges and new promise, bring you health, good fortune and happiness in all you do! I look forward to sharing the adventure with you!
MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR!