When I finished school I used to work at a big sport shop for about a year. During this period I took a break for three weeks to visit my family abroad. Before my departure I made sure I also have the weekend off when I’m back for some time to adjust. In that same weekend I got a phone call from a colleague that was desperate to find somebody to replace him for the same day (actually in 30 minutes), as he needed to visit a close friend in the hospital that had an accident. Of course I agreed as it’s important and how can you refuse to such a request? 15 minutes later he was at my door-step to give me a lift to the store, as I didn’t have a mean of transportation at that moment. I noticed that he seemed quite cheerful for somebody that his good friend lays in the hospital, but I thought that he’s simply happy to be able to go and visit her. A few days later I discovered that he didn’t go to the hospital on that afternoon but to a football match that he got a ticket for in the last moment. So…
Quite a few times in my life I didn’t (or almost didn’t) get a job because I seemed “too nice”. Strange, right? You want to have nice people around you but the reality shows that you need to be the “shark that heads towards the bullseye” to manage and survive. It seems like the only way to get through life is to be calculated, know what to say and when, and don’t care much about other people’s opinions. But what if you can’t and don’t want to be that shark, because it will clash with your values and beliefs and ultimately lead to unfulfilling professional life?
Recently I came across a concerning situation, where a senior manager has some sort of an affair with a colleague while he’s still married. According to HR the manager he doesn’t surpass any rules or guidelines and he is free to have a relationship with anybody he wants to, as long as they are not directly reporting to one another. However, think of how much moral damage this situation makes to others who observe and are part of this team or department? From a professional point of view, indirectly, this senior manager can prefer ideas or budgeting requests that are somehow influencing the person he has a relationship with. From a personal point of view, what happened to “Do you promise to honour and tenderly care for one another, cherish and encourage each other, stand together, through sorrows and joys, hardships and triumphs for all the days of your lives” that this person promised to do when he married his wife? What kind of example do we set to our coworkers in this way, especially when this person should lead and bring others to become successful?
Your values and what you believe in make the person you are. It’s not your status, how much money you have in the bank, or what kind of car you drive. It’s your mission in life to learn and grow, and help others to do the same. It’s about what happens when you walk into a meeting: do people become enlightened or do they get all diplomatic and into themselves? Do you take the high cynical road to get things done or do you keep the truth as a compass to your acts and behaviours?
Every decision we make is based on the personality we built through the years. Through our career path our experiences might change these values, for the good but also for the bad. For example, when we are young we are still very positive and value-driven. However, as the years go by we tend to drop our positivism as we experience unexplained situations that happen to us or to the people around us. Then we start to create defence mechanisms and mantras such as “Trust no one”, “it’s me or them”, and the most famous one “don’t be so nice, otherwise people will climb your back”. Unfortunately, everything can be true if we don’t develop a core full of inner values and correct reality to deal with these negative sayings and faulty experiences.
The effect of being constantly cautious is greater than what we tend to think. If somebody at their beginning of their career is being mentored by somebody that got already ‘negatively seasoned’, they will influence these newly joiners. In another scenario, if someone with high ideals is the only one that tries to push the team for the ‘right’ and not always the ‘best’ solution, this believer will loose the energies at some point and join the ‘value-crashers’. It’s a magic-circle that we create and continue to feed, unless we decide to break it ourselves and tell others to do the same.
So, what is your take? Be the person you want to be by following the values we all know should be within us. Regardless of your title, be the influencer at your environment to signal people that it’s ok to authentically smile, help others, happily accept ideas that are not ours, and do what collectively is best for the team even if it doesn’t immediately bring you personal benefits. And always remember, ‘what goes around, comes around’, so let’s assure that whatever it is that ‘goes’ and ‘comes', is positive!
And if going back to my colleague at the beginning of this story, I once needed somebody to replace me for one day at the store, so I immediately called him as he promised to cover my back when I needed. And guess what? He couldn’t…eventually I got backed-up by somebody else, which perfectly portrays my point: nothing should prevent you from doing the right thing in the moment and believing that others will do the same. This is exactly the world we want to live in.