Career Insights: 5 things You Should not be Quick to Do


1. Quick to Speak.

Not your mind, not your opinions and no, never your ideas. Not at first, anyway.

Your ideas are what define you. They have to be thoroughly baked so that they make sense and must have anticipated every (or most) objections. Again, people when expressing their opinions may not really want to know what’s on your mind – and might just be content with letting you know theirs.

Relatively few are genuinely interested in the opinions of others, and less so if they’re contrary. Your opinions might not count if you have not obeyed the ‘never your ideas’ rule above. If you say everything that comes to mind, there is the risk of being taken as shallow and unserious – neither of which is welcome for any career worth having. Therefore, you choose to refine your ideas with more thought and time thus creating music to the ears of the customer/or management.

Refined speech get’s easier through practice

2. Quick to Criticise.

This must never be you.

It is also important that you stay clear of highly critical people for a number of reasons. First, they tend to be unfair in their assessments – and you do not want to be associated with unfairness. Secondly, if they have criticised others in front of you, they will criticise you in front of others – and unfairly too.

Third, there is the tendency to be vindictive after a while. See, being critical only gets darker, especially where it is having little or no impact on the supposed victim. Fourth, there is a loss of creativity due to misdirected focus.The problem with the critic in general is that concrete accomplishments are wanting and so they tend to compensate by pulling others down.

Others may do this, but you will not.  You will also avoid those who do.

Of course there are the constructive critics who show us a better way to do things and they should be listened to.

3. Quick to Close for the Day.


This is a personal favorite.

There is the general need to run the clock down to the magical closing time of 4 or 5pm – make it through the day. Thing is, It’s either the employee doesn’t like the job or is not sufficiently motivated to put in the extra effort (which may be for several reasons). Either way, average effort leads to average results which lead to average companies. And average companies don’t last too long.

I hear of justification – the need to rest – backed by research that says 7 hours of sleep is essential to optimal performance. So I ask; did the researchers who came up with this conclusion sleep 8 hours per day while conducting the research that produced this finding?

But I digress.

Imagine if the leaders of the United States, Russia and China slept for 7 hours a day. They wouldn’t get much done! Moral of the story: The more important your work is, the less time for sleep you actually have. Yes, yes, yes I know of work life balance but as Jack Welch put it; “There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences”. So, we need to decide on what’s important and go with that.

And I hope you decide correctly.

4. Quick to Respond/Defend your position


Business is a team sport.

Forget the curated stories about entrepreneurs making millions from car garages. Things like this only happen at the early stages of a business. The amount of connections needed to consistently succeed on a global scale in some industries can be staggering. Sponsors, suppliers, middlemen, Government officials, researchers, charity networks, peers and even the competition are but a short list of the connections necessary.

In the bestselling book the start of you, authors Reid Hoffman (Founder: LinkedIn) and Ben Casnocha (Co Founder & Chairman: LinkedIn)  advocate the creation of an ‘Interesting Peoples’ Fund – essentially an open tab that covers coffee meetings with colleagues, mentors and experts in other fields etc.

Most vacancies in companies are filled by relationships/word of mouth, and rarely by traditional media. Focus on refining your idea rather than defending your position (if at all – for if the contrary opinion is true, you would change for the better; and if the contrary opinion is false, you would have more validation of the correctness of your idea)

As former CNN talk show host Larry King put it; “I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.”

5. Quick to Volunteer.

You might want to pause before doing this.

Consider if there is even enough time to effectively commit in the first place. This is to avoid being stretched too thin when combined with your current workload. Also, is this likely to build the key relationships necessary to building your career as a professional? Again, is it something you believe in or are you in it for the publicity? Sooner or later, observers know when a volunteer is in it for reasons other than the advancement of society.

And they rarely like such people.


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