Are you the workaholic each of us knows? You know the one. Checking email from the time waking up to checking their phone when they are at lunch with you (rude, by the way) to checking it up until they go to sleep. Every social opportunity is really a networking opportunity with people they probably would not socialize with. Conversations relate to business, money, etc. You are not sure what their interests are other than work and making money. Or is this you?
It is no secret that hard work is required for success. And there are times you must work harder than others and longer hours. Getting ahead does not come easy. But, as important as giving your all for your career or business, there has to be down time to. No, I don’t mean sleep.
What do you do for fun? What do you do for stress release? If you have to even think about the answer to either of these questions you need to rethink your priorities. Working hard until you die will only result in one result. And we all know someone who was a workaholic because they were going to retire young and didn’t make to retirement for reasons that are not pleasant. While fun is important, stress relief really is a required part of all of our lives.
If you question what I just said, talk to your doctor. Your stress relief doesn’t need to be training for a marathon or triathlon, but you need to put physical activity in your routine. Your body and brain will thank you for it as you age.
As for fun, it really is a requirement too. It could be sewing or playing an instrument, travelling, participating in a book club, etc. or a combination of many things. But you need to find things you enjoy that are wholly unrelated to work. Without doing so, you will have no balance and the odds of burnout or something worse increase exponentially.
Plus, the more things you do outside of work, the more you have to speak about the next time you are networking…..
I saw a video this morning titled “Millennials Show Us What “Old” Looks Like” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYdNjrUs4NM&feature=youtu.be). While it is hard to hear twenty and thirty somethings say they consider people in their 40’s to be old, it got me to thinking about the conscious and unconscious biases we all have. Spoiler alert: in the video they introduce the millennials to “older” people and they realize some or all of their perceptions of age and what is old were wrong. These biases are about more than just age and can impact your professional and personal network in a negative way.
Think about what crosses you mind when you are at a restaurant and a gentleman at the table next to you has an earring or a woman has a nose ring, or someone has sleeve of tattoos on their arm. Some of you are thinking “why would they do that to themselves” or “they clearly aren’t on a professional business track.” Others are thinking nothing at all because to you it is within the range of norms for people you know or deal with. The difference in perception may be because of your age, how you were raised or something else in your background. But the person you may think has a low level or blue collar type job may be a doctor, a nurse, an investment advisor, own a successful business, etc.
What comes into your mind first is unconscious, and we all do have biases, whether we admit it or not. Making assumptions without knowing someone is problematic on many levels. By doing so, you may avoid a person at a social or business event who may be a great connection for you or someone you would connect with on a personal level. And remember, everyone has these biases and it may cause them to avoid you too.
So what can you do about this? Truly try to be more open minded and embrace other’s differences. Next time you have an opportunity, start a conversation with the person you usually would avoid. The worst that can happen is they are not interesting or a good connection. If so, it is easy to say “nice to have met you” and move on. It is better to waste a few minutes than miss an opportunity.
I always say “if we were all the same the world would be a boring place.” I believe that to be true. Branch out beyond your norm or comfort zone and see what happens!
Without failure you will not succeed to the level you otherwise have the ability to reach. Wayne Gretzky said “You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” How true. People are seriously afraid to fail. People are seriously afraid to have someone tell them the failed. Or were wrong. People simply are afraid of criticism, even when it is constructive criticism.
Because of this a large percentage of the population would rather live in a bubble where they do enough to get by, but not take risks that can lead them to another level and greater success. Why? Again, people do not like to hear negative reviews regarding their work or actions, ignoring that it is as hard to provide constructive negative feedback as it is to take it. Failures and constructive negative feedback can be learned from in ways success from maintaining the status quo will never provide.
The truth is that if you have not failed you are not trying to be your best self. If you are okay with maintaining the status quo, but not improving, keep doing the same thing and you will continue to have the same results. But do so at your own peril because while you stay in your bubble, someone more aggressive, younger, etc., will come along and pass you by. Maybe this won’t upset your apple cart and your bubble will remain intact, but are you really okay with it when those people pass you by and later leave you in the dust?
Eleanor Roosevelt said “Do one thing every day that scares you.” What scares you is different for all of us. Maybe it is setting aside five to ten minutes each morning to call someone from your list of contacts or who you want to connect with just to say “Hi” and stay in their mind. Maybe it is setting a coffee or lunch with someone you met, but don’t really know, who could lead you to business or good connections. Maybe it is agreeing to be a presenter at a seminar. Maybe it is asking people for business. It can take limitless forms, but each day you don’t do something that scares you is another day you stay in your bubble not striving to do better.
So what are you going to do today to get out of your bubble?
We all know the saying “You are either all in or all out.” The meaning of this phrase is obvious, but when you think about it, it applies to all situations in business or your personal life.
In your personal life, if you spend your time with your kids or significant other connected to a device, email, etc. they will know they don’t have your full attention, which means you are not all in. That email can wait when it comes to your time with your kids or significant other, can’t it? If not, you are better off explaining to them you have to work than letting them sit there assuming they are not your priority. Think about how you feel if your significant other is constantly on their phone or the Internet. Or , if you have teenagers, it is likely you know this feeling well.
Similarly, in business, if you are not all in, you are all out. You cannot kind of do something and be successful. You may not work as hard as you could have and get lucky by landing an account or client, but that is the exception, not the rule. If you don’t give it your all on a report for a supervisor and they know your usual level of work product when you do give it your all, they will know. The inverse of this is that people you work with or for know when you give it your all. Of course, this comes from more than a report or work product, and includes your direct dealings with them in person, by phone or otherwise. Don’t you want people you work for or with to think you are all in?
If not, you should be questioning if you are in the right field or profession. It could be that something in your personal life is affecting you in your work or vice-versa. If so, you should meet issues and challenges head on because if not, nothing will change, and it could ruin relationships, your career or more.
So, are you all in?