Professional values

My father-in-law, a very successful manager and leader at several international corporations, shared with me his philosophy on the way to succeed on the job. I have tried to follow it through my career. With his permission, I share it here so it is clear what I value.

Be totally honest

Be totally honest with your boss, your fellow employees, but most of all with yourself in everything you do and say. No compromises on this.

Work as hard as you can every day, all day

If you totally apply your abilities every day, all day, you are guaranteed success. You will immediately be given excuses for not doing this by two sources. The first will be the people you work with and your friends. They know, subconsciously maybe, that you are about to pass them up in life. Stop and think the first time this happens (which will probably be the first day you do this) "Why are they telling me to slow down, take it easy, etc.?" The answer is obvious. The second source of excuses will be yourself. Your mind will say things like "slow down, nobody appreciates it anyway," or "the boss doesn't even notice what you're doing and he doesn't even care," "nobody else is doing it," (I hope not; that's what makes this so easy), etc. All excuses, all lies. Your mind is your worst enemy. It will generate a continuous list of excuses for letting up on the job. All lies. the exact instant you let up, for whatever reason, you've just joined the rest of the world that was sitting there watching you go by. Now, you can sit there with them and watch the others go by you. Your mind will say, "You can start up again any time you want." That's a lie; you've just guaranteed yourself failure. You'll never pick it up again. Wave at them as they go by you.

Try to help your boss do his job as best you can

You don't have to agree with, or even like her or him, but try to help your supervisor succeed in every way you can and you'll become very important to him or her. You don't have to laugh at his jokes, or compliment his ability or any of that drivel; just be as loyal to him when he is not there as when he is there and help him do what he conceives to be to be his job. Your friends and co-workers don't like this, by the way, but we've already discussed that.

Make every effort to get along with everyone you deal with at work

You don't have to like them or spend time chattering with them, but you have no right or reason not to be courteous to them. That doesn't mean they will do the same to you, but that's not the important part. What is important is that you will get more help and cooperation than other people from all the departments around you, and you need that to succeed.

Give everyone around you credit for what they do and for their ideas

You might as well; everybody will find out eventually, anyway. Besides, everybody forgets the good ideas and special effort on any one job in about two days, but they'll never forget that you took credit for somebody else's accomplishments (especially if he or she works for you).

Be at work, on time, every day

This has exactly THREE times the importance you think it does. If you don't feel good, don't worry. You will feel better when you get there, every time. Being habitually late shows a lack of mental discipline.

Accept all additional and difficult assignments willingly

You are going to get them anyway, but if you gripe about the job when it's given you, no matter how well you do on it, you won't be appreciated.

If you do all these things, you are guaranteed success. You cannot possibly fail. You may have noticed none of the things listed above have anything to do with ability, intelligence, talent, etc. Those things were decided for you. The things listed are all controllable by you. They will give you guaranteed success financially, socially, or by whatever measurement you use, but most importantly, you will know personally that you've done everything within your power to succeed — and that gives the greatest benefit of all, personal pride and satisfaction within yourself. That's worth more than all the rest of it put together.

© Jack L. Thompson 10/29/81