I coached someone this week who moaned that he was unlucky at work. He told me that over the past ten years, he had moved jobs four times but at each new job, he was presented with various roadblocks that halted his progress.
To find out the kind of obstacles he faced that worked against his advanced, I probed him further. He described what he felt were the situations that he had to deal with, and in the course of a two hour session, he referred to himself as being “unlucky” at least five times.
After listening to him, I figured that his problems were pretty much the same, each time. His mistake was that he’d fallen into a behaviour pattern that repeatedly brought the same results.
As he spoke, I couldn’t help but think of a quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States, who said, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.“
So I suggested that for him to get better results at work, he needed to be able to learn lessons from his mistakes quickly, and to leverage on that learning.
I’d like to share some of things I asked him to consider, so that his “luck” would turn.
The first and most important thing for you to cognize is that your attitude, more than anything else, is the most important asset you have at your disposal.
If you do not get your attitude in order, your work-life will never bring you satisfaction.
While it always sounds clichéd when someone tells you to be positive, I can assure as an employer myself that a positive employee is what most bosses are in search of.
Be willing to be an energy giver at work. This is the right attitude at work.
Remind yourself to be helpful even if it does not profit you immediately. Understand how to respect others, especially when they annoy you. Learn to be committed to your word. And, when you make mistakes, admit them and own up. Tell your boss what you learnt, and how you will do it differently the next time.
This is the first step to creating your own luck at work.
The next thing you must learn is how to co-exist with people that do not share your values, passion or way of thinking, at work. Many of you will have colleagues and bosses that you may not actually like.
For example, Robert Hogan, a psychologist and author who is known for his research on personality testing, argues that his studies have shown that between 60 to 70 percent of managers are in fact incompetent, or deemed as poor leaders.
The reality is you must figure out ways to peacefully work alongside other people, especially superiors, who are not the best.
Sulking or creating conflict cannot resolve your issues with a problematic co-worker or boss.
You must learn to manage your own reactions, and to work within the conditions you find yourself in. And, you can only manage difficult people if you keep all your interactions with them succinct and to the point. You will do well to remember that even if your boss or colleague does not do this, it’s best that you continue to be civil, pleasant and polite.
The most counter-productive thing you can do is to form a gang of like-minded people at work who collectively dislike the boss or a particular teammate. It never solves your issue with the person in question. Do not do this, and do not entertain others who do this.
Accept that people are different from you, and realise that your value grows exponentially when you can work with people who are unlike you.
The final thing I shared with my coachee was to remind to him that he was hired to solve problems. Many people succumb whenever they encounter problems.
I often tell the people I coach that without problems, they would be out of a job.
Most people avoid problems, or start looking for a new job, or become the “problem” when they are faced with complications at work.
Condition your mind to understand that you will be confronted with difficulties at work regularly. But, this is in fact a good thing. Do not dwell on the discomfort a problem may cause but instead focus on thinking about how to solve them effectively.
I have realized through my work that people fall broadly into two categories; they are either problem-oriented or solution-oriented. I know I only need people who are problem solvers.
These are the most valuable things you need understand to create your own luck at work.
Keep your attitude in check and have a learning approach to everything. Manage your emotions with your bosses and colleagues, especially those you dislike. And, focus on resolving problems, rather than contributing to them.
You will find that you will have all the “luck” in the world, when you master this.
Shankar R. Santhiram is managing consultant and executive leadership coach at EQTD Consulting. He is also the author of the national bestseller “So, You Want To Get Promoted?”
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