Don’t over-manage your career; get on the rocket ship

By | January 28, 2015

Career. Some people over-manage their careers – thinking too much about the role they play, how they will position themselves for promotion, and what they deserve to be doing on the team.  My wife rightly says I don’t think about this enough, but honestly, some people think about it way too much.

Do good work.  If you are new to your firm, your group, your school, your church, your team, check yourself.  Have you done good work?  Have you earned equity?  Have you earned the right to demand anything?  What are you entitled to?

When you are in groups of people more educated, more informed, more successful, and more networked. . .why are you talking so much?  You don’t have to be a Confucian to understand group harmony, hierarchy, and organizational flow.

Don’t be an idiot. People talk a lot about themselves – what they have done, what they deserve, what is important for their career. Let’s not forget we are in the professional services business. It’s all about the client, and yet, have you mentioned what’s good for the client at any time in the last 3 hours?  If you are busy comparing yourselves to others on your team, well, you are a loser.

Simon Sinek has a great interview here, explaining why organizations built on fear are insular and weak. If you have team mates who are jockeying for position, comparing themselves to their peers, saving emails as “evidence”, the culture is dying or dead.

Don’t ask which seat.  When staffing a project, listen to the partner and principal.  Yes, you can give you opinion, but don’t be the high-maintenance millennial.  Great HBS speech by Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) in 2012 here.  She tells a great story about some advice Eric Schmidt gave her when she was applying for a job at Google. See excerpt:

So I sat down with Eric Schmidt, who had just become the CEO, and I showed him the spread sheet and I said, this job meets none of my criteria. He put his hand on my spreadsheet and he looked at me and said, Don’t be an idiot. 

Excellent career advice. And then he said, Get on a rocket ship. When companies are growing quickly and they are having a lot of impact, careers take care of themselves. And when companies aren’t growing quickly or their missions don’t matter as much, that’s when stagnation and politics come in. If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on.

If offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask which seat.  Just get on.

dont pick your seat

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6 thoughts on “Don’t over-manage your career; get on the rocket ship

  1. ohiowarehouseGuild

    As Steve Jobs used to say, ‘it’s not about being the richest body in the cemetery.’ It’s far more satisfying to be a part of a productive and cohesive team that is out there to solve problems and accomplish goals. There isn’t much to gain by climbing over one another to be “at the top.” Thanks for the positive article!

  2. Lew Sauder

    Great article. Too often people manage their career in tactical terms. If they think more strategic, and in ways to help others succeed, their own success will most likely follow.

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