Years ago I learned that it’s important to have guidelines for your professional life. I developed mine after I was in my thirties. I had already achieved many of the goals I laid out for myself and was trying to figure out what next.
I’d recently left the Department of Defense as one of the youngest Deputy Assistant Secretaries ever and was doing straight-up lobbying for a Defense company that wasn’t very good. One of my partners at the time, Michael Landrum, and I came up with the following list.
1) Work with people (and organizations) you want to work with.
You might not always have a choice of who calls you, but you do have a choice in who is part of your team. If you don’t like them, if they are not good people, or if they are bullies or manipulative, then you have the power to change it. Of course some people can be both really great and real jerks at the same time, so the challenge is navigating through that. Bottom line – are they good people that you like?
2) Work with interesting and challenging ideas.
This is big for me. I want/need to be intellectually stimulated. If I wanted to be on a shop floor line, I would have chosen that path years ago. Me, I have humble goals like creating a new method of problem solving that’ll change the world.
3) Do things that are for the greater good.
The beautiful thing about this goal is you get to define what the great good is. The purpose of this goal is to remind yourself daily to do things for others, whether it be on a small or large scale. Incorporating this into one’s work life changes how one views certain tasks. Are you doing things for a greater good today?
4) Do things that are corporately enhancing not distracting.
This applies to both internal and external actions. You don’t want to wake up in the morning, pick up the New York Times and read about what a dirt bag you’ve become. Nor do you want to read a similar thing about your clients and teammates.
5) Don’t lose money.
You don’t always have to make money, but at least don’t lose any in your professional endeavors. Unless your work is for a charity, and then it’s up to you. For example, all the work we did with Michael J. Fox on stem cells in the 2006 elections was gratis. I was committed to that issue and to Michael, and knew we were doing a great good (see number 3) so it was worth it. By and large though, we live in a capitalist society so it’s only fair and right that we are paid for our services.
At the end of the day, if you can look in the mirror and say you’re doing all five of these things, then I guarantee you, it’ll be a good day.
The views in this blog post represent the viewpoints of individual team members, not Capstone National Partners as a whole.