July 14, 2022
We’ll get back to our “origin story” project soon. One thing I have noticed about the guest blogs so far is that the people kept moving up the ladder to take on new challenges. Getting “in the door” is great, but growing your skill set is even more important. Who wants to do “drone work” for 40 years? The keys to a great career in gears, or any other field, are habits you learn at an early age, e.g. — punctuality, good manners, dedication — timeless attributes that do not depend on a fancy degree, family connections, or unusual talent. Take punctuality, for example. Almost every sports hero biography will highlight the need to be on time for every meeting or practice or game. Often they will act like being 15 minutes early is some sort of trade secret. Anyone who ever had to punch a time clock understands that “time is money.” Punctuality is far more than just being on time; it is really about respecting other people’s time. Everyone is busy; everyone has other things going on in their life. Being on time and ready to tackle the task at hand is a very “low bar” for any team member. Chronic attendance problems will hurt your career, no matter how brilliant or talented you might be. Similarly, rudeness and lack of respect for your elders will make your life difficult. Generational differences have been with us forever; sarcasm and the latest buzzwords should be reserved for close friends. The “Eddie Haskell” routine is just as bad; many of the adults you interact with have children and can sense insincerity quickly. Life is improved by common courtesies. The sports world is big on dedication, of course. Tales of heroic rehabs from potentially career-ending injuries are a mainstay of the genre. In the work world, dedication means sticking around to insure that critical deadlines are met. It means volunteering for sales or field service calls to unhappy customers. Sometimes you just have to “take one for the team.” It took a few of these “character building” experiences for me to realize that no matter how unhappy someone is over the telephone, just showing up to hear them out changes the dynamic for the better. Being part of these “away teams” marks you as someone worth investing in; management knows you can be relied on. It might seem silly that I post about something that should be common sense; but I could easily write a dozen “case histories” of very talented people who seriously damaged their career arcs because they violated these simple rules. We are sharing “origin stories” submitted by blog followers; please send your 300 to 500 word account of how you began your life in gears.