Tag Archives: leadership

Defending My Career Philosophy

8 Jul

I believe in employment happiness. I believe in doing work that is purposeful and fulfilling, work that incites satisfaction regularly. I also believe that if the process of obtaining that dream job takes a few unplanned steps or means enduring some not-so-fulfilling roles, so be it. If the promise of a meaningful career is accompanied by some tiring, stressful, developmental years as a young professional feeling out the real world, so be it. If the intimidation and expense of applying for and attending graduate school requires some extra months of thought and deliberation, so be it. This is my career philosophy.

As long as the steps you take are thought out and strategic moves toward the larger picture, there’s no issue. The relationships developed along the way help to build a strong, close-knit network of professionals willing to help as the future unfolds. The knowledge learned, the skills acquired , the experience earned during a “stepping stone job” are all leading toward a bigger, better goal. A dream. An accomplishment. This is my career philosophy.

So when someone recently told me to “wake the hell up” I began questioning my philosophy on life, especially as it pertains to my career path.

“Stop taking on all these little side projects [blogging, PR assistance, community volunteering] you’re doing for free and focus on moving yourself forward,” one said.

Am I not making moves? Is my plan not working? Am I wasting my time? This uncomfortable uneasiness lingered and left a strong feeling of self-doubt and stress. Its not like I’m working full-time in a field I love. Wait actually, I am.

There is this traditional view on how things are supposed to happen. We continue to burden our creative tendencies, our exploratory needs by forcing a timeline on life with these condescending little check boxes that, if remain unchecked, reflect failure. #FailingAtLife

…Why?

When so many others scrapped the book of life, the traditional methods toward obtaining The American Dream: Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Mark Zuckerberg. These people are successful. They are revered. They are influential.

That my personal career philosophy, which perhaps doesn’t fit into the plans suggested to me, is coming under so much scrutiny appalls me. My side projects make me happy. They give me purpose. They’ve broadened my network from simply the tristate area to a nationwide network of bloggers, business owners, thought leaders and just all-around cool people.

SO HERE’S MY DEFENSE:

I believe in employment happiness. I believe in doing work that is purposeful and fulfilling, work that incites satisfaction regularly. I also believe that if the process of obtaining that dream job takes a few unplanned steps or means enduring some not-so-fulfilling roles, so be it. If the promise of a meaningful career is accompanied by some tiring, stressful, developmental years as a young professional feeling out the real world, so be it. If the intimidation and expense of applying for and attending graduate school requires some extra months of thought and deliberation, so be it.

This is my career philosophy.

As long as the steps you take are thought out and strategic moves toward the larger picture, there’s no issue. The relationships developed along the way help to build a strong, close-knit network of professionals willing to help as the future unfolds. The knowledge learned, the skills acquired , the experience earned during a “stepping stone job” are all leading toward a bigger, better goal. A dream. An accomplishment.

This is still my career philosophy. 

And if you don’t like it, you can remain chained to your check boxes, because that’s not how I roll.

 

The Power of Perspective: How Shopping for a Mattress Changed Me

10 Jan

I learned something the other day.

I didn’t learn an interesting fact about another country or how to work some new software program. I learned something about myself, about my job, about my future; it wasn’t life changing but it was important…and that’s what matters. I learned about the power of perspective.

You see, I spent the larger portion of my afternoon at work, not answering phones or responding to inquiries or managing a guest list like usual, but doing research on a mattress. Where was it cheapest? Who had it in stock? What was a comparable mattress to the one we wanted? Do they offer free delivery? Pillowtop or firm?

It was exhausting, annoying and tedious. Not to mention, it wasn’t exactly a cheap mattress and since my employer is supplying this mattress to a white collar employee, it was frustrating, given my current pay grade…

I digress.

After hours of searching and contacting random salespeople at mattress factories and outlets in my state – a surprising amount, actually – we finally made the purchase (got it on the cheap, too!) and scheduled the delivery.

“This is not what I went to college for!” I thought, angrily. It was task work – monotonous and lacked autonomy – and I wanted nothing to do with it. But I did what was asked of me with a smile on my face while I died a little inside with every phone call or “View the Collection!” click. I was so ready to go home and complain about how irritated I was with this task.

Upon leaving, though, I felt no sense of anger, no frustration. Sure, I didn’t go to college to end up purchasing mattresses for my boss’s boss’s whoever. Sure it was a pain in the ass and sure it wasn’t exactly in my job description. But I got the job done and after I was able to look at it from a different perspective, I realized that from this task alone, I gained a lot of hands-on experience and helped someone in the process. I learned some skills that could be applied in many other ways at work and in my personal life. Who knew?

The power of perspective allowed me to understand that this task wasn’t about ordering a mattress, it was about learning life lessons:

The Early Bird Gets The Worm

I contacted tons of salespeople regarding this mattress. In some cases, I got representatives from the company who directed me to another representative, in some cases I got directed to another store, and in some cases, I heard no response. In one case, however, I received an immediate email response from an actual representative. Throughout the afternoon, as I asked question after question, she responded promptly and in full. Ultimately, we purchased the mattress from her. She provided answers, fast…and that was just what we needed.

Lesson Learned: If you have the time, take the time. If you don’t have the time, make the time.  You’ll see results.

Customer Service is Key

When I called one company, the phone directory prompted me to press 7 for the bed and bath department. The representative who answered, however, was not in this department and forwarded my call to what he thought would be the mattress department. I was greeted by a woman who barely spoke English when she told me, “there is no one in the mattress department today but perhaps I can help.” After some time, though, she ultimately asked me to “check online.” This was a complete turn off as a customer. The woman from whom we purchased the mattress never once sent me a copied/pasted email. She was prompt, friendly, and informative. It was refreshing.

Lesson Learned: A customer or caller should never be bounced from line to line to line. This is a waste of time. Companies should take the time to review their directories and messages to ensure satisfactory service. Also, people want a personalized experience, not a computer-generated message.

Research Leads to Success

If our office purchased the first mattress I found in the collection and style we wanted, it would have cost us nearly $1,500 more than what we spent for the same thing. After researching, though, I was able to find similar mattresses, similar brands, and lower prices.

Lesson Learned: The internet is a beautiful, beautiful thing! Research changes the game. You’ll never know what’s really out there unless you do the research. If you think you’re an expert, look harder.

Assistants are Assets

Ordering a mattress is something my bosses cannot be bothered with. They have so much on their plates…and then some! As their assistant, it is my duty to make their lives easier, even when it means typing “mattress companies in my town” into Google. At the end of the day, I am paid to assist in whatever they need and I know that by completing this task, they are able to check one thing off of their to-do lists and I know they appreciate that help.

Lesson Learned: Assistants make the world go round! Leaders: appreciate your assistants and show it. Assistants: reassure your leaders you are there for them, no matter what, by doing an excellent job.

By taking a different perspective, I was able to shift my attitude from “screw this” to something that was a benefit for me. That’s the power of perspective, ladies and gentlemen.

What life lessons have you learned by taking a different perspective? Share your stories with me!

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