1) Avoid cardiac arrest with a side order of divorce
One of my first corporate jobs was at a start-up. It just went IPO, but still operated in start-up mode. People worked 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on weekends. The perks of Silicon Valley companies come with strings attached. Don’t let the free food and dry cleaning fool you.
I remember being tasked to plan an off-site for a VP who insisted the meeting began on Father’s Day Sunday. Yep, Father’s Day. The five directors were not happy. The team building event started with resentment toward the VP’s lack of respect for family time. I witnessed the toll the crazy 12-hour day pace took on many in my department.
All but one of the five directors were in the midst of divorce proceedings. One director started to have heart issues due to extreme working hours, poor diet and no exercise. Another was in weekly counseling sessions with his family and trying to salvage his marriage.
Lesson learned: Hard work and commitment are a must, but killing yourself or your marriage doesn’t have to be part of the package.
2) The broom closet is not the place for a meeting
I answered the phone at an office job incorrectly one morning. My mistake was assuming the managing director was not in the office when she had been there since 6:30 a.m. that morning. The problem was it happened to be her boss on the phone. When the managing director led me unwittingly into the broom closet later that morning, I had no idea that I was about to be read the riot act for answering the phone incorrectly. I was cornered in a broom closet and reduced to tears.
The closet incident was a reflection on her being over stressed and acting out in her power position. After I left the company, I learned she was demoted and later let go for treating people poorly.
Lesson learned: No matter how stressed you are at work, there’s no excuse for taking your anger or frustration out on someone who works for you.
3) Laugh often
I was one of those women who had the hormonal funny bone during pregnancy. I laughed a lot. At a really tense moment during a meeting, I literally lost it with laughter. My manager who was typically stern started laughing because I couldn’t stop and then the second guy started laughing, too. I had to leave the meeting to compose myself.
Lesson learned: Laughter is a good thing, even in business.
4) Lead by example, always
Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? As a manager, you are the example, the leader. I once had a manager who was the office gossip hands down. The team was constantly reminded to let things roll off their backs, not to engage in the rumor mill and walk away from the battles. What did the manager do? Engaged and battled. Needless to say, the reputation of that manager was really tarnished among the team.
Lesson learned: Actions truly speak louder than words and credibility can be built or broken by those actions.
5) How you rise from the fall counts
Once in a while, I have a day when a wrench gets tossed into the mix, the stress overwhelms and my attitude stinks. It happens. No matter how good the attitude, how strong the affirmation or what the circumstance, a bad day is simply a bad day. You can always find something to be grateful. How you rise from the large or small falls will not go unnoticed personally or professionally. Stand up, brush off and keep going.
Lesson learned: Your attitude will help you rise or make you fall. The attitude choice is yours.
What lessons have you learned from your career?
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