5 things I have learned in my 30+ years of working

We all have work experiences, right? I started working when I was 14, I am now 50. I have seen a lot and been through a lot at work. I have picked up a lot along the way, here are 5 things I have learned while working that I feel are super important:

  1. Advocating for yourself: If you are lucky, you have a great boss who will go to the wall for you. If you are like most of us, you don’t have that luxury. When its your review, when you have completed a project and when the company is going through transitions, you have to advocate for yourself. Ask for good raises, point out you did project “X”, affirm why you are an asset.
  2. Keeping the boss happy: This will be very unpopular but its an important lesson to learn. It requires a pretty large degree of humility but if you can keep your boss happy you will be happy at work. I mean this of course within reasonable context, but the bottom line is when my boss at work asks me to do something I try and do it as quickly and efficiently as I can. This simple thing, while challenging at times, has resulted in my getting good raises and bonus’s over the years.
  3. Keep showing up: Excessive absences create negative conditions as work still has to get done. If you are out a lot, someone else has to pick up your slack. If you show up everyday chances are, you’re picking up slack for others. This is extremely valuable, at the end of the day companies want work done they are less concerned with how you feel about it. If you show up everyday this enables the first item, advocating for yourself to be an easier sell.
  4. Deal with issues early: When you put a group of people together inevitably something happens, or people don’t get along. The last thing you want is someone bad mouthing you behind your back. If you have a problem with someone at work, even if its not your fault get it resolved. I’ve seen several examples of people being undermined at work but unhappy people. Deal with it quickly.
  5. Its about the money: You are 1 of 2 people in my opinion when it comes to work. You love what you do and are thrilled to do it, or you go to work to get money to do the things you love. Know your value, at all times. Every quarter you should be looking up online what someone with your degree and experience is being paid in your area. Don’t be lulled into benefits packages (they are nice, don’t get me wrong) or “corporate culture” memes from HR. Money is why you are working, the more you have the more things you can do with it.

I’ve got another 10-15 years left of work, how long do you have and what are your biggest take away’ s from working?

Another interesting article on Mental Health from the UK

As many of my readers know I read a lot of articles from all over the world. I am U.S. based and we are WAY behind the rest of the world in terms of mental health awareness. A horrible place to be for a society that encourages gun ownership…. I mean you would think we would be investing heavily into mental health services and studies where everyone is armed to the hilt. I even own fire arms, but I digress…

So our friends in the UK are starting to focus on mental health issues and how it will impact employers in 2020

Perhaps this is the best avenue to take to induce more change in mental health. When businesses are affected a broader swath of the public at large takes note.

From the article: “Greater awareness, and implementation of policies relating to the issue will help. Further, as awareness grows, and as employees become more comfortable discussing mental health issues, employers will likely start to provide more support for employees. The lack of early identification and support (whether or not the employer’s responsibility) is often the issue. The silence and stigma are without doubt a contributing factor.”

The article elaborates a great deal on Prince Williams work on the issue, he has taken a leading role in the discussion and that has created a higher profile to the issue. The article is without question a European/UK piece and I’m not saying that smugly but there are concepts and undertones within the text that simply don’t translate well to a U.S. or Asian culture. Simply put, European governments have put a much greater emphasis on work place corporate accountability.

There are far more “pro” worker laws there, and this is largely without unions (all though they do exist) I think the article does a decent job of illuminating the issues, from a work place perspective. I am not sure it can translate completely abroad. In the U.S. for example, most employment is “at will” you really don’t have many rights as a worker. On the positive side you are also not beholden to an employer either. Ideally, we meet in the middle somewhere. I know if I was working for an employer who created the conditions by which I could have better outcomes with mental health I would be far more loyal to that company and much more productive.

What I would like to see in the U.S. (can’t speak for our Asian friends on this one) is governments incentives companies to offer more services and benefits. I believe companies would do this in earnest if there were more reward to doing it. We can’t simply dismiss out of hand a companies need for profits, its how we have accumulated so much wealth in the west. That said a touch more balance toward more worker benefits would be a pleasant change. Certainly, our friends in the UK seem to be attempting to have the discussion, seems like a great place to start


Work anxiety – What to do if you make a mistake.

This piece is going to be from personal experience, lol. I’ve been a manger of people and have been managed and in both capacities, I have made mistakes, a few doozies too. Work is stressful, there are so many competing emotions that go into work these days. People that don’t experience it are either numb or blessed. You have competition, backstabbing, gossip, accolades, rewards, bonuses to name a few. Each one of these and including several others (a demanding boss) can inspire anxiety.

What happens if you screw up? If you make a mistake and you know it before everyone else, what do you do? Quick story: many, many years ago (yes, I am ancient) I had to cut a check to a client for over 300K I put the check in the printer upside down, it looked correct but the vital part on the back was on the stub, not the check part. I got it back signed stuffed it in an envelope and mailed it. I realized later what I had done. I panicked I didn’t say anything to anyone, the client called me, he was unhappy, very unhappy.

I had 3 days of anxiety over that mistake. I survived, but what could I have done differently? If you make a mistake at work, you are not alone. Perfection is the bane of very good, but that doesn’t matter right? If you have anxiety you are going to beat yourself up over it. Here are 5 things you should do if you make a mistake at work to alieve your anxiety:

  1. Take responsibility: Let your boss know and the affected parties know. Apologize and make sure they know you will work to fix the issue.
  2. Fix what you can: This intertwines with the above but fix what you can. Some issues, you can’t fix but be available for the fix. Bottom line, if you make a mistake and can fix it, fix it, even if it means you work late.
  3. Make it a learning moment: Cliché? Maybe but you made this mistake for a reason. Learn what you did wrong, and make sure you implement the requisite changes so that it doesn’t happen again.
  4. Forgive yourself: Everyone makes mistakes, but at this moment your up. You must make sure you forgive yourself for making a mistake, everyone makes them. If you beat yourself up too much you might cause harm to your future job performance.
  5. Get back to work: Don’t be tentative. Do your job, build your confidence back up.

Making a mistake at work sucks, it happens all the time. You will recover, you will move on and you will be successful. Own it, manage it and learn from it. You are doing awesome, one day at a time.