In my 30 years in a professional career, I’ve had my successes, and I’ve had my failures. The failures are usually not very pleasant, but I can usually deal with them. The successes, however, are quite a different story. In short, they have a tendency to go to my head.
Just what do I mean by that? Simply, two things. First, I start believing my own press releases, so to speak. You know the ones – where I’m the best thing since hot buttered rum, and where I can leap mid-sized buildings without breaking a sweat. Damn, I’m good, aren’t I?
Second, I start to think that I am making it look easy. So easy, in fact, that I can lose my focus and still be an outstanding performer. I don’t intentionally lose my focus, of course, it’s just that I start to think that I can think about other things because my job is on cruise control.
Then something bad happens. Well, usually not that bad, but bad enough to jolt me out of my complacency. Something major doesn’t get done, or I screw something up. I learn pretty fast once again that I’m not only mortal, I’m damned fallible.
Guess what? After all these years, it still happens. I’ve probably gotten a serious wake-up call like that a dozen times in what is approaching my 30 years, and I still haven’t learned my lesson. When things are going well, I still think that it is my effort rather than the team or the circumstance.
Here’s what you do. When you’re in a gravy situation, one where everything you touch turns to tulips, wake up every morning and spend five minutes telling yourself that you are such an idiot that a block of cement can do your job better than you.
Well, maybe not quite that drastic. But remember that success is a team effort, and one that is highly situational on colleagues, management, the activity, and the work environment in general. Remind yourself of that constantly. Maybe it really is you that makes things click around the office, but if you share the credit, you’ll end up with a team that is fiercely loyal over the long haul.