“You’ll never….” The starting of such a sentence generally occurred when I was battling it out with friends playing video games back in the day. As a professional, I never heard those words until I started in my current career five years ago. It was my first week in my role, and a colleague who was my Lead asked me, “what are you wanting to do here?” I had a generic and simple reply: just put my head down and work my way up. And that’s when I heard it for the first time, “you’ll never be more than a Surveyor”. I was confused and asked him to elaborate, which he shared that our company never allowed surveyors to be more than surveyors. It was upsetting to hear and I thought what a sad attitude to have. From that point forward, I had a desire to prove him wrong; an additional boost to learn and develop.
It started off while trying to learn all I could as a Surveyor. Then, I started covering for our Engineers. I displayed an urge to take on any and all challenges regardless of role. It caught the eye of my engineering colleagues. They started asking me to cover more often. Finally, after covering for the tenth time, I walked into our Superintendent’s office and asked her if I would be wasting my time to rotate in an Engineer’s role. Of course, she had no hesitation and mentioned there would be interviews in the near future. I got the job and I moved out of the Surveyor role. It….felt….so rewarding and amazing!
I know that my Lead didn’t have any malintent with his comment. Nor do I believe that he felt that I couldn’t be something more within the company. But for him to say what he did with such conviction was disheartening. From that day on, I proved to him and myself that if you work your tail off, then you can be more. Now that I am in a managerial role, I strive to create an environment where my employees never feel as if they are “stuck” and cannot move into new roles or progress within the company. Learning and development is near and dear to my heart. It is my obligation to give them the tools to do their job; knowledge is one of them.
Be an example of what can be done versus what cannot be done.
Donuts, I never knew they served more of a purpose than just being a sinfully delicious treat. There are many nicknames for them, but the one that has stuck with me has been “power rings”. I did a very simple thing: I brought donuts to the Operations crew to say “thank you”. Little did I know that such an act would be so rewarding.
I really don’t remember why I started bringing donuts to the crews on occasion. I guess I thought they needed a little push or validation that I appreciated all their hard work. Sometimes more of an incentive to work is needed than only a paycheck. There are many ways to acknowledge and show gratitude towards others. A simple “thank you” is a great start. Showing your appreciation is the next best thing…cue the donuts.
As much as I would love to place the onus of production on donuts, it is the gesture that has driven positive returns. It’s funny, somehow the work I asked to get done was finished in a more punctual manner, and comradery and communication increased. Call me a nerd or a bit over-sensitive, but it feels good to walk into an office full of miners and, all of a sudden, the entire mood changes and jokes start to fly. All because I wanted to show gratitude and acknowledge their hard work. I think believe these simple acts of gratitude have differentiated myself from others. Work ethic and performance are important, but there is just something about giving thanks that builds healthy and valuable relationships.
Call me cheesy, but I am now going to call donuts “rings of gratitude”. Give thanks to your colleagues and employees. Too often, it is all that is needed to get a little extra from not only your workforce, but also from yourself.
There are few vivid memories etched in my mind to this day…being fired is one of them. It was a punch in the gut for a one-year college grad. I gave everything that I could to that company. How could they terminate me? Sales job. Enough said, right? I didn’t earn them enough money. I started off giving everything that I had to that company and it slowly dissipated. I had no excuse. I didn’t enjoy the work. Instead of trying to make the most of it, I decided to just do enough to get by. I performed outside of character. And they made the right decision.
I remember walking in and starting my day just like any other day. I went and grabbed some chewing tobacco (don’t judge, I have since quit) from my supervisor and then started making sales calls. It only took about 30 minutes before that supervisor and another asked to see me in the meeting room. I didn’t think anything of it. The three of us sat down and one supervisor cut to the chase, “we have decided to terminate you.” You never really know what to say but you would think that there would be immediate hate and discontent. However, that would have been out of character. Instead, I thanked the two of them for their time and the experience garnered over one year. I then asked if I could grab my stuff, at which time I was informed that I no longer was allowed in the office and I had to exit to my car immediately. They would then bring me that dreaded cardboard box with my things. I had become that guy who was fired. The only thing that I could think of next was to do what I loved…see a movie (“Ted” had just come out).
What a sobering feeling termination is. Wow, I wasn’t good enough. It was the first time that I learned that I could be replaced. We all hear that we are replaceable, but we do not believe it until it actually happens. I was a team player. I had a positive attitude at work. I built relationships with clients. It was not good enough. But I got along with everyone and volunteered at corporate social events and stayed late. I did all of that for a $32K base salary! Not good enough. At the end of the day, if you are not meeting the company’s performance goals, then they must do what is right for them: finding someone else who can. I have said “not good enough” multiple times, but truly, my performance was not good enough for me. I learned to expect more from myself. I was capable of giving and doing more. I found every excuse at the time to underperform, and termination was the repercussion for it.
I believe that the biggest takeaway from my termination was if I don’t perform to my standards, then how can I expect to abide by my company standards. Since termination day, I have approached each day in my career as if I would be terminated tomorrow. I strive to not perform or behave out of character. If I set high expectations and meet them, then I will be successful.
What sobering event in your life changed your behavior for the best?
Subject Matter Experts…I used to think that I had to be one in order to be successful. Whether it was “adulting” or my profession, I had to be an expert or else I would not succeed. I look at where I am at now and I can confidently say that I am no expert as being an adult, husband, father, or manager. But I sure give the respective subject matter a rigorous and consistent effort to understand it.
I’ll say it again, I am no expert. However, I give every task and/or person everything that I have. I don’t just do it once, but again and again. I wouldn’t want my integrity to be in question simply because I was a one-and-done; more or less, a one-hit wonder. I have found that this behavior has positively impacted my life and that of others. It is intimidating when you become a Manager, your staff, as well as others, treat you as if you are the subject matter expert. In my first and current managerial role, I felt that I would fail because I was not the person who could answer every question asked.
As I have grown as a manager, I found success in not being the subject matter expert, but rather the individual who can ask the right questions and align the puzzle pieces, whether that be with people, information, or both. The whole time I have thought that I had to have all the right answers, but really, I had to ask the right questions to not only myself but to others.
Take a break from immediately trying to find the right answer. Instead, ask yourself if you are asking the right question(s). You may discover an expertise.
I didn’t make up a new meaning for BOGO, it means buy-one-get-one. I had to find some way to mix a little marketing into my blog. I feel like I did get a BOGO when it came to dads (see previous blog posts). And now, I am celebrating my first Father’s Day as a dad. My wife and I had our first child four months ago, and I have been getting tremendous returns; being a dad is one hell of a BOGO.
The premise of my blog is self-discovery…. fatherhood has been quite the progressive discovery. I am not a patient person. Thanks to my little guy, it is as if time slows down and not everything is a rush anymore. This hasn’t only applied to my personal life, but also at work. I’m pretty sure my coworkers and staff are wondering why I’m not trying to “carpe diem” every little incident. Sometimes it is just best to sit back, digest the situation, and then act. During the pregnancy, I cannot tell you how many times I was told that my life would change with a child. It wasn’t so much about change as in not being able to eat dinner the same, remembering a diaper bag, or making sure I travel around nap time. The change that everyone mentioned was that of my purpose.
Throughout my blog thus far, I have spoken about values such as family, commitment, and influence. Fatherhood touches on each of those and takes the magnitude of each to a completely new level. And damn does it feel good. I am getting “older”, but having a child has added a whole new drive, energy, and determination to succeeding not only as a father, but also as a professional. It is interesting, I have found myself giving just a bit more to my colleagues and company thanks to the responsibility of being a father. More or less, they got a more efficient and productive product.
To finish my week of paternal reflection, fatherhood is a gift that keeps on giving. You build, grow, and challenge your values. Hug your dad, thank your dad, and learn from your dad. And if you are fortunate… become a Dad.
In light of Father’s Day weekend, I would like to continue to focus on paternal learning experiences. You never really understand the amount of influence your Dad has on your life until you become a husband and/or father. It’s quite interesting, my dad and I aren’t blood-related but I carry many of his mannerisms, tendencies, and personality. And then you have my bio-dad who I did not meet until I was 19, and I carry many of his same mannerisms, tendencies, and personality. I finally answered the question that my parents always asked me while growing up, “How are you like who you are?”
I like to look at influence from a “glass half full” perspective: all influence is positive. I cannot tell you how many times since I moved out of the house that my dad has told me, “I’m sorry for being hard on you kids; I wasn’t a good father.” Excuse me but that is bullshit. Just because he didn’t show me all the right things in life doesn’t mean that I didn’t learn from them. I sure as hell tried to retain all the good my dad did. Well, I probably shouldn’t have retained the OCD over which way the toilet paper roll faces (the roll should face on the outside by the way). As far as I am concerned, he provided food on the table, clothes on my back, a roof over my head, love, and everlasting memories.
My dad was huge on making sure us kids were paying attention. We were taught to pay attention to all things, big or small, like street names, cleaning a bathroom, communicating, school, etc. I paid attention to my dad’s actions, right or wrong, and allowed them to positively influence me. I have approached my career in the same manner. I pay attention, learn from my mistakes, and reflect on my decisions. Each of these actions has facilitated success, big or small.
Influence is powerful. Remember, you may not do all the right in the world, but that does not mean you haven’t positively influenced someone.
I mentioned in my previous post that my biological father exited my life when I was 2 years old. Thank the higher powers that be, he returned when I was 19 years old. I have overwhelmingly enjoyed our growth as a family every since. I am quite blessed that I have two dads in my life. Like who I call “dad”, my bio father has taught me incredible lessons and guided me down the paths towards success. Please note that for the remainder of this post, I will be referring to my bio dad as “dad”.
Though there are many values that I have garnered from my dad, commitment also is at the forefront. This man made a commitment to me at a very young age and then events dictated that he had to break it. However, he had the will and determination to make good on his commitment to me as a father. And for that, I am forever grateful.
I am very fortunate. Often times, when the biological father is not in the picture, he is a “deadbeat”. In my situation, my dad started a family and grew a successful business. He then connected with me and offered me a job to work for him. At that position, I was able to see a manager committed to the well-being of his staff. It was never more evident than when the recession happened years back and he took money from his own savings for years in order to help his people provide a living for their families. His actions taught me that relentlessness and selflessness are key to fulfilling commitments. I am relentless in my commitment to my staff to provide a healthy and safe work environment.
Is there a commitment that you made in the past that you never fulfilled and/or feel time has made it obsolete? Let me tell you, it is never too late and you may surprise yourself on what you can accomplish.
I didn’t grow up with a father. That’s not true and a bit dramatic. I did not grow up with my biological father. Due to circumstances, my bio dad exited my life at 2 years old. However, I was extremely blessed and privileged to have who I call “dad” raise me. He didn’t owe me anything. He didn’t have to work his tail off to make sure I had a roof over my head, food on the table, or clothes on my back. I have learned an incredible amount from my dad. One of the first values that I ever learned as a kid from my dad was commitment.
My first learning lesson of commitment was a difficult one. I was playing Little League Baseball for the first time. During the season, my best friend invited me to Knotts Berry Farm. I was ecstatic and so excited to go. There was nothing more important than hanging out at a theme park…. until I asked my dad if I could go. I was devastated and confused when he said “no”. He very quickly informed me that I had made a commitment to my team and that it was inexcusable to break that commitment. If you make a commitment, you give it everything you have. I am so thankful that my dad taught me that lesson.
My dad has never backed out of his commitment to me as a father and mentor. I didn’t understand this lesson on commitment at that young of an age outside of the fact that you do what your father tells you. Looking back, my level of commitment has grown everyday whether it is tangible or intangible.
As a husband, I am committed to the health and well-being of my family. As a manager, I am committed to the health and well-being of my staff, colleagues, and company. The value that I have placed on commitment has rewarded my tremendously. I have married and started a family with my soul mate. I have a loving and supportive family. I have genuine and sincere friendships. I am surrounded by invaluable people. Without discovering the value of commitment through my dad, I would not have earned the trait of dependability.
Appreciate and value your family. Reciprocate their unconditional commitment.
Self-discovery…a rather generic topic but one, nonetheless, that is intriguing and unique for everyone. I am still trying to figure out who I am. I feel that, at this time in my life, I am finally scratching the surface of discovering who am I, more or less, what makes me tick. Life is a journey and thanks to so many experiences, good and bad, I continue to learn about me. Self-discovery is invigorating, and sharing my path through blogging may provide further motivation and purpose for not only myself, but also for others.
For the longest time, I valued baseball. That was the end-all-be-all for my purpose in life. And then it was no longer there. I was lost and without a purpose. I knew that I was supposed to be an “adult” and go to school and find a career and then buy a home, raise a family, etc. All the things that society said were the right and conventional ways to define success. I didn’t value any one of those things as a 19-year-old. Where’s the next party? Now that was valuable.
I believe that the path to self-discovery starts with value-creation. My value evolution started by failing. I wasn’t used to failure…at least, not anything that I would classify as failure. Having to quit baseball, that was a failure. Getting below B’s in school, that was a failure. Disappointing the people who cared about me, that was a failure. However, with each failure, I learned the highs of success; I couldn’t get enough. I learned that through discovering and implementing my values, life was…well…valuable. I am excited to reflect on my experiences, new and old, on a path towards continued self-discovery. My goal is to not only understand me, but to relate and inspire others along the way through my experiences. Our path towards value-creation is unpredictable, and doesn’t just happen overnight.