Friday, July 17, 2009

It's Not About You. It's About Them.

Today Anthony Balderrama offers some excellent career advice. If you want to keep your job and even advance your fortunes, you should make it a point to make your boss look good. Link here.

The notion conflicts with much conventional wisdom. How often have you heard that it is really all about you, your individuality, your autonomy, and your independence? And how many people have told you to pursue your own self-interest, because, after all, what else do you have?

I would respond that if you do not make your boss and your company look good then you are going to be looking for a new place to assert your individuality.

To be more concise: It's not about you. It's about them.

This rule applies as well to other relationships. Shouldn't it matter to you that you make your friends look good? Shouldn't you go out of your way to make your spouse look good in the eyes of the world?

If you make your friends look bad, then you will surely lose friends. If you make your spouse look bad in front of other people you marriage will soon be in trouble. It should go without saying that if your embarrass your boss or humiliate him, your job will be in severe jeopardy.

Is this too obvious to belabor? I think that it it is too important not to belabor?

If you believe that you must always assert your essential wonderfulness at someone's expense-- be it your boss, your spouse, your friends, your children-- then you are headed down the road to misery.

How do you make your boss look good? First, by doing a good job. If you do well, he looks good. He hired you; he assigned you to the account.

You make others look good by being humble, by not taking too much credit, and by receiving credit modestly.

If you allow the world to think that you succeeded despite the mediocre management or the dysfunctional corporate culture, you are not going to be chosen to manage the next project.

It should go without saying that you would do better not to badmouth your boss... not to his face, not in public, but also not in private. When it comes to insulting and demeaning comments about your boss... there is no private. Keep them to yourself.

The same rules apply to relationships. The man who embarrasses his wife in public, who makes her look bad in front of her friends and family... is going to find the trouble he is looking for.

But he can also make his wife look bad by looking bad himself. If he behaves badly, if his appearance is unkempt, if he has bad manners... it will reflect badly on his wife.

After all, she chose to marry him. If he insists on showing the world that she has poor judgment, she might feel compelled to find a way to show the world that she doesn't.

So, don't ask yourself how it feels to act a certain way, or to wear a certain outfit. Ask yourself how it reflects on those who have hired you, who love you, and who befriend you. If it feels good to you but makes them all look bad, then you are missing the point.

As a social being you should think of yourself as connected with others through a complex network of relationships.

If you see yourself connected to others you are more likely to stay connected to them. If you see yourself as an autonomous human unit, someone whose behavior and actions only reflect on yourself, you are going to have plenty of free time to reflect on where your job and your friends went.

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