I’m almost a month into this new assignment, and although I’m trying to walk a different path than my first stint, there are definitely things I find myself falling back into even though I know I shouldn’t. I’d like to share some of the things I have caught myself on in hopes to do a better job of navigating them in the future.
- Running from one thing to another. This was my life during my first career in corporate. Running from meeting to meeting, or from project to project, with little to no time in between. I actually found myself cutting off conversations to run to another one that I was already late for. This caused a level of stress and relentless pace that was just unhealthy. Four weeks into Corporate 2.0 and I’ve seen myself slip into this mostly to mirror the environment that others around me operate in. So recently I took some time at the end of my work day to build calendar space in daily to collect my thoughts, work on my own items, and slow down a bit.
- The expanding working day. When you first come into a role it’s normal to spend more time trying to learn and get everything figured out. This sometimes leads to coming in a little early or leaving a little late. But if you aren’t careful you start finding yourself there at 7pm while you tell your family to “start supper without me”. This is even sadder when you consider I’ve been counseled on this before. When I was still a very young man one of my managers found me working through a scheduled break and sat me down. He told me that every day has a rhythm… they start, break, and end for a reason… and that people should follow the same rhythm. He then told me, “You can work your whole life, and die, and there will still be more work to do.” His point… there will always be more things you could do, but not all of them have to happen today.
- I am not the work that I do. The first thing strangers ask you when they meet you is “what do you do?” So it’s very easy to fall into the trap of deriving your value from the role or work that you do. Whether it’s the credit we get (or don’t get), respect, awards, accolades, or performance bonuses, it’s easy to base our perceived value on how others view us. But at the end of the day you are still you regardless of whether those things happen. That doesn’t mean you don’t work hard and deliver your best, but the external “stuff” doesn’t change who you are. Be you first, then do your job.
- Remove All Risk. In our work we often try to define all the unknowns, dig in further, and turn them into known quantities. This is especially true when we’re on the hook for something big, but it also is apparent in the little things we do. Unknowns are seen as risks; the known are seen assets. But when confronted with the new and unknown we often find that nailing down all the question marks is impossible. In lieu of allowing these risks to remain undefined, we decide to stay where we are and stick with the known and the “done before”. But some of the greatest finds, the greatest adventures, began with a step into the unknown. We shouldn’t fear and destroy it; we should poke into it, understanding that mistakes and failures are opportunities to learn and grow. Risk little, gain little.
- Just because they provide free coffee doesn’t mean you have to drink it. I became a coffee drinker after I left the corporate environment in 2009. During that time most of my coffee drinking was done in coffee shops and restaurants, and usually confined to a few cups a day. Now that I am back behind a desk in corporate, I’ve become fast friends with the commercial coffee pot 30 feet from my desk, where coffee is always hot, always present, and always free. It wasn’t until week 2 that I realized that I was drinking 8+ cups a day… putting me in a continual caffeine buzz. It’s hard to maintain a healthy pace (see item #1) and a defined workday (item #2) when fueled by unlimited amounts of coffee. I’ve since pulled back a bit on my consumption to level off around 6… we’ll see how I hold up.
I’ll likely wait another 30 days before posting another update on what I’m learning, but I’d still like to learn from you and your work experiences. So…
- I’d love your thoughts on what I’ve written via comments below. Agree? Great, tell me why. Disagree? Excellent, share your different view. Trying to sell me SEO? Don’t bother, just click here and save us both time.
- Share your own “top lessons” reflections so I can learn from you. The more discussion, the more we learn together.
Until next time…
Did you miss my Week 3 Reflections? You can find them here.
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