A-Z Career Challenge: Z = Zero Sum Game

The other day Skip and I were interviewed by an NPR affiliate in Oregon. We talked about much of the advice covered in this series, e.g. minding your –ilities, Gene Kelly Dance Steps, the subtle art of interpersonal skills, and a lot more.

As I was reviewing my notes post-interview, I realized I had left out one of the key points I really wanted to stress. So… I’m going to write about it here.

It’s called “Showing up.”

When you read that, you may think about the infamous Woody Allen line, i.e. “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

This simply isn’t true.

Of course you have to show up. That’s a given. The hard part, however, is the follow-through. In other words, lots of people show up. It’s endurance that matters.

As we bring this series to a close, I want to remind you how important it is to follow-up and follow-through on the commitments you make. When you don’t, it’s a zero sum game. You lose and the person you’ve committed to loses as well. Either way, it sucks.

If you want to know how to avoid this scenario, it’s really as simple as a two-point plan.

  1. Be responsive. Whether it’s email, text, calls…whatever. Return them all and return them promptly. Even if all you have to say is, “I don’t know” or “I’m working on it”, trust me, that’s enough. Otherwise, people feel ignored and disrespected. Eventually, this will turn into frustration and – if left unchecked – anger.
  2. Do what you say you’re going to do. Either buckle down and keep your commitments, or raise your hand and ask for help. The worst thing you can do is nothing. (See #1.)

I want to leave you with an excellent piece of wisdom from CAREEREALISM founder J.T. O’Donnell. I was chatting with J.T. not too long ago about the advantages and challenges of being an “emerging” author in the very crowded career field. I’ll never forget her response. “When you’ve been in any business for a while,” she said, “you’ll realize that most people come into it with tremendous ambition and gusto that quickly fades away when it comes to actually rolling up your sleeves and getting the job done. The best will survive. They always do.”

 Note: This is Part 26 in a series called the “2010 Career Challenge: Becoming a Rock Star from A to Z” by Emily Bennington and Skip Lineberg, co-authors of Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job.

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