'Mindful Monday': The final tips for getting ahead in corporate America

Jan 12, 2015


Nancy Fredericks

Nancy Fredericks pens Women Lead Change's "Mindful Mondays" column, appearing the second Monday of every month. Fredericks is a preeminent Business Executive Strategist, Author and Thought Leader. Corporations like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Adobe, Allergan and Transamerica have retained her to optimize individual and organizational performance. You can find her at www.CareerStretchZone.com. The views of Nancy Frederick's blogs represent her own and not necessarily the views of Women Lead Change.

In our last "Mindful Monday," I discussed three of the five tips that will help women succeed in corporate America. Today I examine the final - and maybe most important - two points.

It Isn’t All About You!

A woman in NFI’s ‘Leadership for Women Only’ professional program received an outstanding performance evaluation though a few scores and comments depicted her weaknesses. She was devastated. It preyed on her mind. She’d always been at the top of her class and didn’t feel her performance warranted lower scores. To this client anything less than ‘perfection’ was much, much less!

Another woman, I worked with presented a completed project to her boss—a project, by the way, that she’d spent a great deal of time and care to produce. Her boss slaughtered her. “No. This isn’t right. The final paragraph should be the first. And these points are in the wrong order. No. No. No. This is a mess. I expect better of you. Correct it and make it right!” My client was devastated.

What do these two women have in common? They took their bosses comments personally—receiving the remarks as though their bosses’ were saying: “You’re no good! You can’t cut it.” And that is not what these two very different male bosses meant.

How do I know? Because they tell me about their intentions and motivations when I’m coaching them or when they attend NFI’s ‘Leadership for Men Only’ professional program. They’re astounded that women take such comments to heart.

  • What they say about the performance evaluation is: “It’s my job to specify ways to improve. No one in corporate America is perfect. If next year, improvement is made on the weak areas I pointed out; it is my job to reveal another area for development. And the higher you progress in the organization the more your performance evaluation will reflect increased expectations.”
  • Or when I ask about their tough comments on projects: “I’m not saying anything about the person who produced the work even when I say ‘you.’ It’s my job to improve the outcome of the project and often I have personal knowledge about the receiver’s style of thinking. Sometimes just the way you present the facts will make a difference in the results achieved. That’s what I bring to the project.”
  • When I ask these guys if they couldn’t be a bit more sensitive in the coaching, they say: “Business is tough. You have to learn to roll with the punches.”

I know this is hard to believe; it was for me when I worked in corporate America, but honestly, it isn’t about you. Stop wasting your precious time taking everything personally. The only thing that counts in corporate America, after all, is results.

Let’s take a look at how these four tips impact your personal life:

  • Be a Leader/Owner in Your Mind and Actions – this results in more time.
  • Learn to Say ‘No’ the Right Way – this results in more time.
  • Set Boundaries that Count – this results in more time.
  • It Isn’t All About You – this results in more time.

More time means more time to live your personal life, if you choose.

Everyone seems to be seeking the Holy Grail—a balanced life. It’s a myth. There really isn’t such a thing as an eternally balanced life.

Take a moment to picture the act of balancing. Is it restful or is it stressful? Even the great ‘Flying Wallendas’ were unable to remain perfectly balanced without vigilant attention and continuous adjustments.

Right now, I can envision you on a high-wire, precariously perched with flapping arms striving for the perfect balance between work and personal life.

Rather than setting yourself up for such a stressful existence, why not start thinking about harmonizing your life, which is a more sustainable way of living. With harmony, sometimes one section of the music is louder, more concentrated and then at other times, another part of the music peaks to a crescendo—all critical and all creating a delightful anthem. The reality is that sometimes work will require more attention. While at other times, your personal life will call for more focus.

Enjoy and revel in each moment. Remember, to be entirely present no matter what you’re doing. This is life—and it is good. Stop occupying your thoughts with the impossibility of balancing and start harmonizing!

Category: Mindful Monday