Today is a cautionary tale of being bitten. Last month i found myself in a satisfying position where I was going to be given an exciting opportunity interstate for a number of weeks. In my delight I started making weekend plans and so forth. Then came the almighty pull back to reality. The constant of what is average. Companies talk about improving it all the time, but one thing will always remain; the issue with resourcing. I found out the hard way that I was no longer going interstate and I was instead going to be sent remotely twice in three weeks. Naturally, I think I have grounds to be frustrated, although I will admit that part of the frustration is my own doing.
You can argue many points of view but when you have breakdowns in communication and failures in tracking resources, cracks will always appear. I forgot this, which is the root cause of my frustrations.
I could keep going about why this is such a big deal to me so that I can feel better about myself. However, I want to focus on the flow on effect. It’s funny that because of one screw up that was out of my control, the flow on effect left an entire team pissed off. This now brings me to the point of this post; Your reputation is everything.
When things aren’t going your way there are two ways you can handle it; mope, complain and essentially damage your reputation or brush it off, remain respectful and enhance it.
There are many people who choose the former and it’s quite obvious how their immediate and mid term futures will play out. I like to think I’ve chosen the latter and here’s why.
Let me start by saying I am ambitious. This means that I must have a long term game if I am ever to be satisfied. As I’ve said before every interaction is a sales transaction (there is always one buyer and one seller) and the keys to completing the sale is the cultivation of trust. In my ‘work place discrimination series’, I focused on trust being a trade-off between intimacy and risk (link here). However, when things aren’t going your way, the other factor that is in your control (reputation), becomes your everything.
So if reputation is your trading chip, then you must fully understand when it means to your employers. As such, the way in which you build your reputation is the key to your success.
I would say that you arguably have your greatest chance at enhancing your reputation during difficult times. Any Muppet can look good during good times but it takes a special person to perform during the bad. The good thing is that you don’t have to be ‘special’ to be special if you consider a few things.
Yes everyone has emotions. However, the office environment is no different to the school yard politics you thought you left behind. As such, presenting the face of humility is the best poker face you should learn. You should still be doing whatever it takes behind the scenes (morally and ethically of course!) to get what you want but don’t forget the benefits on outwardly projecting humility. Note: Don’t confuse this with being two faced. You will get found out eventually and a long term goal is better than a short term gain.
Your first step after presenting humility is to understand why things are happening/or happened like this. It doesn’t stop here though. Using this knowledge to develop a plan that will help you stay clam and focus during the next chaotic moment will be paramount to future success. Consider things such as the difficult personalities that will cross your path and how to deal with them.
You could also remember the saying, fool me once, shame on them. Fool me twice, shame on me. If this is the first time its happened you may be able to justify your actions. However, history has a funny way of repeating itself so there really is no excuse for not being prepared the next time.
You should never back down when you dislike something. However, everything has a time and a place. You don’t achieve anything by fighting in public. Respectful strong words to those concerned in private are your most effective option. If you are still unsatisfied, consider gathering support to take the issue up the chain. Finally, if all else fails, then you may have to resort to Frank Underwood or Walter White tactics in order to be heard..
Keeping these things in mind will hopefully allow you to keep adding strings to your bow and you won’t get blindsided like I did.
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