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Hard Lessons to Learn

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Don’t even think about reading this article without a highlighter and a pen handy. There is a significant amount of good career/life advice in the following 5 lessons … and you’re going to want to highlight information to refer to again later.

Lesson #1: You can’t get a good deal from a bad company. This is a really important one! I’ve tried on the behalf of outstanding candidates to secure a good offer from a bad company … but it just doesn’t work. It can’t be done. Bad companies became bad because they do bad things. Don’t fall victim to thinking you can be the one person who is going to get a good deal. And if you try but get burned, it’s your fault, not theirs. I once conducted a search with a local company and when we signed the search agreement, it just didn’t feel right. Sure enough, the deal fell apart. I learned a couple of lessons. First, follow your gut. If the deal doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Second, an unscrupulous company will always try to take advantage of the situation. Don’t blame the company; it’s only following its nature. Blame yourself for being willing to get close to it.

Lesson #2: Don’t make it your goal to be the cheapest employee they hire. Make it your goal to be the best employee they hire. Companies that only think about money when hiring are not good employers. Companies that sell only on price are rarely good companies to buy from. Anyone can offer you a product or service for a nickel less. And any company can offer you a position at below market value. But when you give up money, you give up something else: quality, service, or a piece of your integrity. Don’t underestimate the willingness of most companies to pay more in order to get more. Many companies hire on ability, not price, and are willing to pay more for the peace of mind that they’re hiring the best person available.

Lesson #3: Talk to smart people. There’s an old saying that people would do better if they knew better. So, ask people who know what you want to know to share what they know. They will more than likely be willing to share information with you. The more information you have at your disposal, the better you’re prepared in the decision-making process. When faced with a situation, you’ll have research you can fall back on that will help you make the best decision you can. You’re no longer “in the dark.”

A word of caution: Don’t argue with the people from whom you’ve asked the information. When they tell you what they did to become successful, don’t say things like “that won’t work for me.” I’m amazed when people who are trying to become successful feel they have the right to argue with those who are successful.

Lesson #4: When you have a problem … you have a problem. Have you heard this before? There are no problems, only opportunities. The motivational types love that one. What planet are these people from? When you have a problem … you have a problem. Period. They are not opportunities. They are problems. And they must be dealt with like problems. Of course, these pie-in-the-sky thinkers who say this are also the ones who are out there saying, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” Not where I come from. Sometimes the sky is black and all it does is rain and storm and make a mess. And sometimes when it storms like that the only thing you can do is seek shelter. There is no silver lining at that lesson. Just brace yourself for a storm!

The people who say this kind of stuff are well-meaning. I know all they’re trying to do is to get you to put your problems into perspective, and that all problems eventually hold some good. But cramming motivational clichés on people when they’re facing real turmoil is insulting. Look, a problem is a problem. Hurt is real. Stress is real. Pain is real. These are the realities of life. There is no help in sugarcoating them. While every problem can teach us a valuable lesson, it still needs to be called a problem and dealt with as a problem.

Lesson #5: Establish priorities. Do you have things in your life that need to be done? Things that you really want to see accomplished? Yet you just have not been able to find the time to get them done? Right now face the fact those things are never going to get done unless they become a top priority to you. Figure out what is really important to you. In other words, establish priorities.

Is your priority to find a new position or get away from a bad boss? Face the facts. In the normalcy of life sometimes the things you don’t want to do have to be your priority. Life is full of have-to’s. There is no way around it. I have them. You have them … things that we’re not wild about doing but still have to do. The key is to figure out how to get them done and still have time to do what you want to do, right?

There is plenty of time to do what is really important to you. Stop being frustrated. Yes, time is short and as we age, it seems to get shorter. But there will never be enough time to do everything there is to do. However, there is plenty of time to do the things you really want to do. If you want it badly enough, you will either find the time or make the time.

 
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