What’s great about going to conferences is that you get to meet people with whom you’ve had a long-distance relationship for years. I’m here in Atlanta at the Melcrum Employee Engagement Conference, and I got to meet my publisher at the Lenox Square Mall for coffee. Even though I’ve written four books for her, we never met face to face until this week.
Eventually we got around to talking business, but we started out talking about our respective appearances. She used to be a New York City-based publishing executive. Now she’s a suburban mom who has had three children in four years. “I don’t recognize myself anymore,” she says. As for me, the dry cleaners keep shrinking my pants. Somewhere along the way I went from thinking to myself, “I can do that,” while watching Olympics figure skaters to going “Honey, will you get more popcorn while you’re up?” Turns out I’m just as delusional now as I was when I was 15. Only the distance between what’s in my head and reality has lengthened significantly.
Time has a way of sneaking up on us, doesn’t it? In addition to perhaps taking a toll on our waistlines, it can also do a number on our resumes. A little fudge here. A little political decision there. A little “well, at least it’s a job” everywhere. And before we know it we’re off-course in the work we do. So I thought I’d offer up this full-length mirror for you to take a fresh look at yourself. See what you think about the way your career is shaping up
- Do you believe in your company’s mission? Do you know exactly what it does and how it makes the world a better place? Are you proud of its impact on your stakeholders?
- Would you stand by its policies, even if you didn’t depend on the company for a paycheck? Separating your paycheck from your company’s standard operating procedures, what do you think? Still proud? Or are you spotting some aspects of your day where you’re taking a nick out of your values?
- Do you truly like the people you work with? You don’t have to be best friends but you shouldn’t have to numb out every time you come through the employee’s entrance. Your colleagues should be people you enjoy and who challenge and inspire you to grow and do your best job.
- Are you living a lie? Have you convinced yourself that you like a job you actually hate? That you respect a boss whom you secretly think is the world’s biggest doofus?
- Can you speak your mind with confidence that you’ll be heard? Every time you keep your lip zipped on powerful issues, you’re moving off your authentic track. And it won’t be long that you will have actually forgotten the dream of your long-term professional destiny.
The little decisions and choices we make in our careers have just as profound effect on our careers as the choices we make in front of our refrigerator. Perhaps choice by choice, they’re imperceptible. But, as you know, they do add up.
It’s never too late to return to a course that suits our values, dreams and potential. Again, the results of the positive choices you make might also be imperceptible. But before too long, you’ll start to like what you see in the mirror. And maybe even come to the point where you can say, “Hey, I remember you.”
Image credit, joshblake, via iStock