Note: This post was written in September of 2011 and was never published until now.
This year I passed my 30th anniversary doing corporate work. There is nothing like an anniversary to make you reflective. Here are ten things that I've learned, much of it the hard way.
1. Work for Good People. Stay at your current job, in school or even on unemployment rather than working for people you can't trust. All other truths that follow below go out the window otherwise.
2. Trust the People Who Employ You. See #1 above if you can't. Trust is seen by your employer as loyalty and good people will trust and reward you in return if they feel that you trust them (and work hard).
3. Hire Good People. It is a false choice that you have to look over bad behavior to keep good performance. Set as your standard that you require solid citizens who have the skills and the work ethic to do the job. Overlooking schmuck-like characteristics because you need to fill a job now, or because the schmuck does good work and makes you money will always, always, always come back to bite you.
4. If You Want Good Employees to Love You, Go First. If you want positive relationships you have to show people that you value them as individuals and that they aren't just a disposable pair of hands. Doing little things that people need when they need it says way more than Company picnics and service awards.
5. Everybody Talks About the Boss. Mother Teresa was one of our most laudable modern-day saints and yet at times suffered dissension amongst her staff. If a Saint in Heaven can't please their staff every day what hope do you have? Don't take it personally and stay focused on your work.
6. Don't Just Make a Living, Build a Life. You may retire from your job in 30 years or quit it tomorrow. Your career should support the life you want to build, not the other way around.
7. No Corporation Holds Your Head While You Throw Up. Sacrificing your relationships for your job is a recipe for ending up alone.
8. You are Never as Good as Your Successes or as Bad as Your Failures. If you screw up the worst thing you can do is get down on yourself and lose the self-confidence you need to succeed. When you succeed just remember that you had a team around you that was indispensable. Also remember that you and were also playing with the house's money instead of investing your own. Both your successes and failures belong not only to you but to a lot of other people.
9. Your First Instincts are Usually Right. You got where you are by having good judgement. When you get an "icky" feeling about a decision or a person step back and pay attention. Go get a second opinion from someone you trust.
10. Leadership is Service. Anyone who wants to advance their career so that they can "be the boss" should never be allowed to supervise another human being. The boss' job is to be a leader, and the leader's role is to serve their team and to make everyone under them successful. If your desire is to "be" served go into some other line of work.