Life is about choices ….

…. and choices have consequences! When I worked at Microsoft as a Director of Marketing I had the great fortune of meeting a chap called Mike Pegg. A truly amazing man that was able to listen and coach you in all aspects of your personal and professional development. Mike and I talked about some troubling feedback I had received from my peers and colleagues in the company. A number had said I came across as “aloof” and “distant”. I have no doubt many used stronger words too! When I mentioned this to Mike he said to me “Life is about choices and choices have consequences.” He went on to explain that I can choose to wake up each day and go to work in a positive frame of mind OR I can choose to be grumpy and stay in bed. That’s my choice. Correspondingly it’s also the choice of the company to pay me for showing up to work or not! The lesson being turn up to work in a positive frame of mind and your likelihood of remaining employed goes up dramatically! It’s not rocket science, yet at the time it was a message I needed to hear. I then challenged Mike and said I am by nature a positive person and always actively engaged in meetings. I don’t get the “aloof” comments.

What am I doing wrong?

Mike went on to ask me how I walked around the buildings from meeting to meeting! Personally I thought he lost the plot on this question. Humouring him I said “Carefully one step at a time trying to avoid bumping into anyone!” He smiled and said that’s precisely your problem. I was now a fully paid up member of confused.com. Thankfully Mike rescued me by elaborating.

When you stand up from your desk and walk around the office or from building to building you will encounter other people along the way. If you have your head down or are looking at your phone or scowling lost in thought or walking fast with a determined countenance, people will see you and think “Avoid”. Net result an image of you appearing to be “Aloof” or “Distant” begins to manifest itself.

I spent the evening deeply thinking about the feedback and reflecting on my subconscious behaviour that was now top of mind. I then took a decision to make a positive change and see the results over time. The trick I used was simply changing all the watches and clocks around me and making them 5 Minutes fast. Then when the time came for me to go to a meeting I would walk slower, smile and acknowledge others along the way and happily stop for a quick chat. Within 2 months I enjoyed a massive turnaround in my knowledge and reputation. People began to stop me to introduce themselves and say hello. Others begin sharing news with me or seeking advice and guidance. The results were amazing. I learned a lot and was able to share and support others in equal measure.

Time and attitude can be your greatest asset or largest detractor. The attitude you bring to work and the time you invest in others are often key to success.

That’s my view, please take a moment to share yours.

Posted in On-boarding & Mentoring.

55 Comments

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