Lessons From 23 Years in the Trenches
Put aside the life hacks... Learn to fall down & get back up
Don’t worry this isn’t a post to call out your work ethic or point fingers. What I’d like to do is provide a little bit of advise based in my shortcomings. I’d prefer you not make the same mistakes that I have.
I entered the Corporate world in 1998. The objective was simple: climb the ladder. I worked hard and played hard taking every opportunity to rub elbows with “the brass”, leaving each of them calling me an a-hole under their breath. With every effort I made I took the opportunity to advertise the effort I had exerted. My mouth was big, my brain was small and my effort spun in circles.
As years went by, I learned to stay under the radar. I ignored opportunities to self-promote allowing only my work to prove my effort. My ego shrunk, my brain got bigger and my effort became laser focused.
How does this relate to 2021?
We live in a time when workforce influencers like myself tend to promote individuality over collaboration. Knowing each of you is responsible for your own success and that you have to prioritize your path.
While I am always pumping my fist for individual advocacy, I‘ve found promotion of individuality can be confused with selfishness.
Let Your Work Do The Talking
I’ve been in 5 million trainings, used every automated marketing system, called, emailed and attended conferences (in-person and virtually). All produced fragments of knowledge but none of it replaces the only thing that matters:
If you are the first to show up and the last to leave, success will be yours. Staring at the wall and gossiping all day negated, if you are willing to dedicate yourself to the profession, you will win!
We all need to exercise, sleep right and find time for a personal life.... I assure you there is plenty of time for that.
Be creative, show up early and stay late, take on additional projects, mentor and be mentored and research tirelessly.
Whether you are going into a job interview, pitching a new client, looking for a promotion or networking with a person you admire; you need to create compelling conversation. No one cares about cookie cutter questions (or your answer to them). You can navigate a conversation by knowing about the person/company you are talking to. This involves more than internet research. You should have a coach within the organization who can give you insight specific to the role and/or objectives of the person with whom you are meeting.
After you‘ve learned about the specifics assess how your skills can differentiate and solve for the current agenda at hand. If I can come into your office (or zoom room) with pre-determined knowledge of your problems and ideas as to how to solve them; I am bringing far more value than the usual talk of the weather.
Sounds elementary but preparation sets the tone for work ethic.
Be Humble in Victory and Accountable in Defeat
Those who swim in negativity tend to play the blame game. They point fingers when things go wrong and pound their chest when things so well. I’d advise this process be reimagined. We all want to show off our confidence and credibility. We don‘t want to admit fault (especially if fault isn‘t ours). People know when they have failed and pointing it out to the team won‘t make it any easier. It‘s equally difficult on everyone when one person takes credit for the teams success.
When you learn to share success without expectation of credit you are able to embrace the true purpose of your professional existence.
You can put aside the training, tools and posts from influencers. These simple lessons learned from falling down and getting back up time and time again will always be your north star.
Great work will always serve your path to success. Preparation feeds work ethic. Don‘t expect credit and learn from your failures.
Show up, do the work and find your purpose!
David Kovacovich is an Engagement Strategist & Behavioral Scientist based in Silicon Valley, California. His continual pursuit is helping companies create Behavioral Modeling through technology that parallels metric result measurement. David is a blogger for the Society of Human Resource Management.