Tuesday, August 13, 2013

“No. F*cks. Given.” and Other Invaluable Career Advice

I read a great article today that I bookmarked months ago and never got to. Funny how things come back around at the right time. The article was a study in the business savvy of Martha Stewart.  You would think, because of her field, that she would need to be likable. And not just pleasant but really likable—like Next Food Network Star meets Oprah kind of liable—like friend in my head likable and well, she just isn’t. Even when her guard appears to be down (and I don’t believe it ever is), she still comes across as steady (and as cold—sorry Martha) as a machine.

Yet, she is a mogul. A “department stores fight over me” type of mogul.  Ever wonder why? The article said it best. It is in her confidence in her abilities. The path to mogul-dom seems to be “work hard, know your value, and have enough confidence in your work and value to keep pressing forward whether or not people seem to like you.”

It seems to be the path most men follow. I am not sure why as women we are so consumed with being liked as well as respected in the workplace. Actually, let me rephrase because, maybe you are just like Martha and you don’t care what people think about you. This doesn’t apply to you…and can I come over for coffee cocktails and pick your brain on how you freed yourself from the burden of wanting to be liked?

Where was I?

Ah, being liked in the workplace.

For years, I have suffered from bitchy resting face. You know the face I am talking about. It is your natural, “I’m chilling/reading/breathing” expression. It is not meant to convey emotion but yet, it convinces everyone who sees it that someone just pissed in your cornflakes. Yeah, that face. I had so many colleagues over the years think I was a bitch or constantly mad because of that face. In a girl moment, I obsessed about it and even started consciously smiling at people to be…say it with me…LIKEABLE. FYI, it didn’t work. I just became that weird smiley girl in the elevator/hall.  

I also went beyond the smiling and constantly bit my tongue so I wouldn’t ruffle feathers. It got me absolutely nowhere. Well, actually, it got me laid off. At the end of the day, I was the nice (when you get to know her) chick that was getting kicked to the curb. Sucks, right?

After dusting myself off, I got more serious about who I wanted to be in the world. I decided I don’t just want to be liked. I want to be respected. I want to defend myself when I feel wronged rather than venting to friends and letting people walk all over me. I want my work to be valued. If I leave people all warm and fuzzy along the way, that’s awesome but it is not a requirement.  I wanted to be my best advocate and if people can’t get on board, they’re just going to miss the train. Like the article says: Zero. F*cks. Given. A better lesson for your work life has never been given. I'm still working on internalizing all of that but my formula is: 

Confidence + Vision + Drive - Being Consumed With Being Liked = A Happy Productive Me.  

Of course, I am not endorsing this philosophy for your personal life. Stand your ground on important issues but you might want to give a f*ck if your partner, family and friends hate your guts. You can’t just tell them you’re channeling Martha, walk off with a snap and a twirl and expect them to understand. 

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