by William S. Frank, President/CEO of CareerLab®
7. There are 1,000 steps in a cardiac surgery, and 1,000 ways to kill a cardiac patient.
Many activities in life require checklists. Flying an aircraft is one; jobhunting is another. A large number of job seekers throw an overnight resume together and race out into the job market, not realizing that it's a step-by-step process, beginning with career evaluation and focus. High achievers, what I call my "type-AAA" players, are among the worst. They're doers and "drivers" by nature; so it's foreign to them to stop long enough to think and plan. They're good at getting a job really fast; trouble is, it's often the wrong one.
In my work I see people succeeding well and failing badly, and I came up with this maxim: "There are 1,000 ways to ruin your life." Literally a thousand. Maybe more. Just look at the news. No day goes by without high-profile bankruptcy, crime, fraud, self-caused accidents, or scandals of infidelityto name a few. This got me thinking. If there are 1,000 ways to ruin your life, not ruining your life is a task. It involves being alert: seeing red flags and avoiding hazards. It involves concentration, commitment, and above all, a clear vision of where you want to go. Muhammad Ali said:
A young Internet entrepreneur who had just sold his business for $32 million hired me to advise him. His question was, "Where do I go from here?" As he told the story of his business skyrocketing, he said, "I wasn't doing it for the money. I was doing it because I loved it."
I've heard this theme many times from top leaders with big salaries and long severance packages. Their huge successes didn't come from the pursuit of money. The money came from the passionate pursuit of their dreams. The reverse is also true: sometimes no amount of money is enough.
Bernhard, a team-oriented leader, joined a Fortune 500 company as Vice President of Finance. Collaborative by nature, his motto was, "We all win together." Two days into his tenure, the Vice Chairman of the company told him, "Bernhard, you'd better be watching your back; they'll be out to get you." Bernhard didn't immediately know what that meant, but it was a red flag that someting was fatally wrong. Within a few weeks he learned that the company's culture was "fear-greed-and-fear."
The senior leaders were motivated by money and only money, at all costs, and they motivated the workers by fear. Everyone in the organization was highly paid, but terrified of losing their jobs. Morale was zero. After six months I was worried about Bernhard, acutally thought the job would literally kill him. He wanted to resign, but couldn't because of a $60,000 relocation package and signing bonus he didn't want to return. After a year, they offered him a $600,000 retention bonus. He resigned and left the bonus on the table, because the culture of fear-greed-and-fear was just too painful.
9. I'm scared! But if I'm not scared, the job isn't big enough.
As I coached a regional manager for a national paint company (name confidential), he was promoted to a higher sales management position in the southeastern U.S. After two weeks, I called to ask how he was doing.
"Really, what's happening?"
"This is a totally new territory for us. No one knows our name.
Wow, that's a high-challenge attitude. So many workers are bored in their jobs, even if they're running the company. I've been there; maybe you have, too. High performance professionals can be the first to burn out: the dentist who's pulled 187,000 teeth, or the trial lawyer who's won 2,500 lawsuits. All of us are good candidates for "repetition burnout," until and unless we keep challenge, even a little fear, in our day-to-day.
10. Success is a team sport.™
Being an independent consultant, I've been a Lone Ranger all my life. But I've had dozens of employees and have been hired by 355 brand name businesses, non-profits, and educational institutions. Asking others for their thoughts and ideas gives you leverage you can't get alone. Others can see your strengths and weaknesses, and the pros and cons of your ideas. My most-effective and highest-paid clients often say, "I really didn't do it myself. It was a team effort." So even if you're a Lone Ranger, "Success is a team sport."™
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