Friday, April 24, 2009

What it takes to be a career commander

I picked up the book Me 2.0 by Dan Schawbel yesterday and am really liking it so far. I hope to be able to use it in my Entrepreneurial Psychology class this summer because I like the idea of encouraging students to develop their personal brand.

His concept of being the commander of your career really resonates with me because it assumes a high degree of personal responsibility. According to Dan, to be a career commander means (pp. 37-38):

To be an active leader in and out of the workplace
To learn from mistakes and failures, while never holding grudges and always putting bad experiences behind you
To know no bounds and persist against all odds
To stand tall and have a memorable presence
To be an agent of change who seeks to lead by example
To care for others, show respect, and follow the Golden Rule
To take pride in yourself and your accomplishments
To always give back and support those you cherish most

That is extremely sage advice from anyone at any age, yet Dan is a very young man. There is a tremendous work ethic captured by these suggestions.

When Dan advocates “to take pride in yourself and your accomplishments,” I’m pretty sure he would caution against hubris. It is one thing to be self confident and quite another to be self aggrandizing. The ability to speak in a matter-of-fact way about our strengths and skills, as well as our limitations, is the sign of a healthy self-esteem.

If I could add one thing to Dan’s list, it would be to never become a “yes” person. Find your own unique voice at work, and consider it part of your responsibility to continually offer suggestions about what you could do to help improve the work that you do.

There is no substitute for performance, so always deliver more than what is expected of you. But there is also no excuse for acquiescence to bad leadership or ineffective processes. If you run into that kind of stuff, do everything you can to help make things better, but if things don’t improve then don’t hang around long. Shake the dust off your feet and move on.

To borrow from Dan’s military metaphor, always consider yourself in excellence boot camp.

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