A wise lady once told me that the only thing harder than setting a standard is maintaining that standard. We set out from high school with a life plan on how the next 10 years will go: get that degree in economics, law, etc; land that envious apprenticeship in one of the top 10 firms in that sector, work your way to the top, get the 1,2,3,4,5 and be accomplished in life. This is a very probable outlook on life, I mean, you are smart and work hard, the odds can only be in your favour.
Until you land in that class and realise the system has some serious flaws in recognising your genius. You get into that job and find that the humanity you naively believed in is compromised on every level of class, creed and ambition. You learn that not everyone knows what they are doing and few of us will actually grow up to figure it out. You figure out that the way to get out of the bottom of the barrel is to go with the flow and become part of the train of “this is how things work here”. That 10-year life plan becomes heavily altered because those fringe plans had to take a back seat in dealing with getting the career you aspired to.
One day I walked into my boss’s office and called a time out, I needed a break from the constant back and forth, this client was wearing me out. He simply said he understands my frustration but at the end of the day, we need to keep our word and fulfil our part.
I had a boss who was literally a cool cat. The client at the time had just decided to frustrate us. The brand we worked with had an already established clientele from years in the market and was well enough known. It had just rebranded and was looking to adapt to the latest craze in that sector. The client contact had decided to target a different demographic and change the brand tone that did not echo to its already healthy market. It was a constant fight. We kept redoing the work until the quality was crappy and we were on the edge of throwing in the towel. One day I walked into my boss’s office and called a time out, I needed a break from the constant back and forth, this client was wearing me out. He simply said he understands my frustration but at the end of the day, we need to keep our word and fulfil our part. So hang in there and when all this is over, I promise you will get the time that you need. Eventually, after a lot of people management, the client relented and let us flow with the direction we suggested and the results were as we had hoped.
This particular boss was a smart guy. Most people in the company complained that he would push you too far. He taught me two things: first, and this wasn’t about him, he crafted your resilience. If he didn’t push you, he would not be able to see your real full potential. For you as an individual, you also had to figure out at what point you would have no more. Second thing, about the client, if I had slacked off because the client would disagree anyway then I would have just given her more ammunition. You do not win when you let someone else’s agenda take over your progress.
Now, we don’t all have the same priorities but in your business, ultimately we need to work together setting aside, feelings and moving towards a goal whether or not you rooted for it or not.
Some situations can have you questioning your path, leading you to distraction and eventual destruction. I am currently struggling with time management around me. Time management in an agency was so important that it carried a big weight of your appraisals. I am in a space that thrives on shifting goalposts, not out of indiscipline but necessity. It carries into every aspect of work and honestly, it weighs me down sometimes. I don’t believe in being busy, I aim to be productive. I want to show that this is what I have done and it is useful and be proud of it. Now, we don’t all have the same priorities but in a business or workplace, ultimately we need to work together setting aside feelings and moving towards a goal whether or not you rooted for it or not. Without buy-in, even the person behind the idea loses the spark, watches the zeal diminish slowly and starts to question their motivation.
This particular mutual friend is highly respected because he decided that “this is my standard, you chose me because you know what I can achieve and if you cannot deal with my standard, I am okay to leave”.
I had a chat with one of my people about the demerits of government and how does one survive the move from corporate to government based on the story of a mutual friend. The lesson from this, and it goes across any industry, is integrity. This particular mutual friend is highly respected because he decided that “this is my standard, you chose me because you know what I can achieve and if you cannot deal with my standard I am okay to leave”. The fact is that he is so much more valuable because of his standards, these standards that enable him to deliver and deliver well. The people I was chatting with were also people who are very strong in maintaining their integrity and the networks they are in do demonstrate their commitment.
These people are a rare and inspiring community. They keep their word, however mundane the promise seems to be. The positions they are in would allow them to get away with a lot if they so wished, but they know that one lapse will butterfly into a breakdown of their personal integrity system. In return, their challenges are definitely much more threatening than anything I am currently facing. However, let’s be careful to not simplify it; it takes a lot to get to this level of integrity. The mantra I have heard separately from two people with this integrity mindset is very simple: you must make that choice to stay the course, say no to that one time and you will build up the courage to say no every time your integrity is challenged.
There is a lot more to integrity than avoiding corruption in the sense we are used to.
So, I and my small responsibilities have no reason to lose faith when I have free access to such profound wisdom. There is a lot more to integrity than avoiding corruption in the sense we are used to. My current read has a really good insight into this and I must share. There’s too much to pack in one post and so I will do a part two on this next week. This should be enough to mull over until then.