The Attitude Test I Failed Miserably

I give a lot of career advice … and sometimes even I need to take it.

Case in point: On Friday I was pulled into a meeting at work. As it happens in corporate life, there were multiple people from multiple offices in this meeting, all coming together to make a decision on something as simple as – wait for it – what should go in a marketing folder.  

So there I was, sitting around the boardroom with a partner at our firm, a practice leader who was visiting from another office, and a spaceship (our code name for the conference phone) holding an industry marketing exec on the line.

It was the first time I had met the practice leader and I guess I wasn’t a bit concerned with making a good impression because not only was I late for the meeting but I actually rolled my eyes at something that was said over the phone. Yes, I admit that I was frustrated at the direction of the conversation but, last time I checked, I graduated from elementary school.

If you’re a follower of this blog, you know that I talk a lot about personal branding and being intentional about the impressions you are making on others. Seriously… what kind of impression did I make on the leadership of our firm, not to mention a notable guest in our office by being visibly disrespectful of their decision-making process?


To be honest, I debated even sharing my bone-headed move with you, but two things convinced me to write this post.

1.)    I think it’s a good reminder that even people like me, who have studied and taught professionalism for years, screw it up sometimes.

2.)    I read an article in SmarfBrief recently that discussed how our “true selves” come out in moments when we are tested. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, it’s not in times of calm that others see what we’re made of, it’s in times of struggle.

I’m not really comparing one bad meeting to the civil rights movement… just saying that I was tested, and I failed. Fortunately, I had a better meeting that afternoon at one of our biggest clients, a manufacturing facility headquartered in Japan. While on a tour of the production line, I noticed signs and listened to employees refer to the art of “kaizen.”

In case you’re wondering – as I did – what on earth is kaizen, it’s the Japanese art of continuous development. This client attributed a large portion of their success (including a masterful navigation of the recent auto crisis mind you) to perpetual improvements in their products and service. If they make a mistake, they take the time to stop – right then – and fix it.

And so will I.

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