Vail Daily column: Additional unsolicited advice to my younger self
Ryan Summerlin February 14, 2013
In my last column, I explored a number of topics regarding lessons you have learned that you would like to share with your younger self from 15 years ago. The list was too long for one column, so we’ll hop in the “Hot Tub Time Machine” and go back in time to 1998 to teach myself a few more things that I only wish I had known:
Take responsibility for your actions
The easiest way to grow your career and to gain respect is to take responsibility for your actions in the workplace. No, it’s not someone else’s fault that the project didn’t get done. No, it’s not because you are “too busy” – we all have the same amount of time in the day.
Take responsibility for your actions, both good and bad, and you’ll earn respect from those you work for, those who work with you and those in your industry.
Your boss makes the rules
Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, and we’re all entitled to it. But keep in mind that regardless of what you think or what you say, your job is to do what your boss wants done. Feel free to share your thoughts, but don’t dwell on it if your boss shuts you down. After all, your job is to do what your boss says and to reach the goals your boss sets.
Don’t like this fact? Change the situation, find a new boss or find a job that allows you to make the rules. Until then, buck up and realize your boss is king (or queen) of the kingdom.
Remove emotion from decision making
Recently, I had a meeting with someone whom I have great respect for. He mentioned to me that he finds certain situations difficult because he’s a “feeler” and how he wished he “was more of a thinker.”
That’s a great lesson for life and for business – there are great advantages to being a “thinker,” using data and best practices to make decisions rather than getting caught up in emotional “gut” decision-making. Emotions tend to get in the way of success and can tie organizations into a continuum of poor decisions rather than doing what the numbers recognize as the right thing for your operation.
Learn how to speak in public
Fairly straightforward, but an important lesson nonetheless. Jerry Seinfeld made a great observation about public speaking when he stated “I read a thing that actually says that speaking in front of a crowd is considered the No. 1 fear of the average person. I found that amazing – No. 2 was death! That means to the average person if you have to be at a funeral, you would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
Don’t be that person. Get over it. No one is going to judge you; if they like you before, they’ll still like you. If they don’t like you, chances are they still won’t.
Assume good intent
This is an important lesson and one that takes time and practice to learn and perfect. “Assume good intent” in business and in any group environment allows you to focus on what someone is saying instead of on a personality conflict or a style that might not match your own.
The fact is, no one is out to get you. Everyone views things differently, be it politics or internal workplace issues. Assume good intent, and this will allow you to grow professionally and accept the fact that just because sometimes others view things differently, well, that doesn’t mean they are bad.
Navigate (and embrace) change
Change is the only constant in the world. My 22-year-old self, nor most people in 1998, could never have realized the impacts of things from the Internet to world events such as 9/11 or simply how technology makes continued leaps and bounds and becomes so important to our business.
The lesson to be learned is to embrace change, navigate change, and be aware of the things that impact your customers – as this very likely impacts how your customers will find out about you or share their experiences with your business.
Read and continuously learn
The last lesson that I’d teach my younger, naïve self as I travel back in time is to read. And read. And read some more.
Read blogs such as the Harvard Business Review or Fast Company. Read LinkedIn updates from industry thought leaders. Read consumer reviews of your business on user review sites. Read, read and read some more. We’re not in a vacuum, and reading keeps us updated on the latest trends and news that we can bring back to our organizations to continually add value.
Now that I’ve helped my younger self navigate the future (the past?) with these tips, I’ll just try to keep them all in mind to help me through the next 15 years.
Chris Romer is the president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.