The economy's in the toilet, and the horror stories are all around you. You can't read the newspaper without learning of another 10,000 layoffs. It's easy to hunker down, not make waves and just try to ride this thing out. Put it in auto-pilot and hopefully stick your head out of the hole to check the weather in mid-2010, right?
Believe it or not, your company and/or your business need you to be selfish and do what's in your self interest. When you use your talents to help yourself, lots of other people win, including your family. It's the career version of why America needs business owners and shouldn't chase ownership off with high taxes.
I'm not telling you to be nasty to others. I'm telling you not to be afraid to take what's yours from a performance standpoint. You need to channel Gordon Gecko, a little Trump, a little Ayn Rand in the workplace. Stop being scared and start being selfish regarding your performance.
More on why getting unfrozen in a recession and channeling Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged is good for your career and your company from BNET:
"How did a Russian-born novelist become such an influential “thought leader” for American CEOs, entrepreneurs, and MBAs — and even Alan Greenspan? Consider the message behind Ayn Rand best sellers The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, which speaks to anyone with ambition and a big ego: The gifted should do what’s in their self-interest. If you have a sharp mind, it is your moral responsibility to make yourself happy. The weak are not your problem. “I am for an absolute laissez-faire, free, unregulated economy,” Rand told CBS interviewer Mike Wallace in 1959. “If you separate the government from economics, if you do not regulate production and trade, you will have peaceful cooperation, harmony, and justice among men.”
Rand’s critics claim that the current financial crisis proves her theories unrealistic and selfish. “Her economic ideas were never really relevant or workable,” says Rick Wilson, a sociology instructor at Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., which offers a class on Rand’s writings. “The time we’re living through is just another example of that.” And yet 51 years after Atlas Shrugged was published, Rand’s writing still wields considerable influence in business.
I read the entire article, and it feels like a call to become entrepreneurial in my career. Or at least to be afraid of being average or mediocre these days. Not because I'm worried about being laid off. Because I'm worried that if I lose that edge, I suck.
Seriously, don't get frozen career-wise in a recession. Do what you are good at and do it aggressively. Here are five reasons why doing what makes you happy in the workplace is good for your company and your career:
1. When you do what you're good at, you're at your creative best. Your company needs your creativity right now, both from a revenue and expense control standpoint. Let your freak flag fly. Early and often.
2. When you do what you're good at, you create opportunities for others to shine. Your teammates need you to be the spark if you're one of the best. Don't play to the lowest common denominator just because there's a recession brewing.
3. Doing what you are good at aggressively and without apology is a portable skill. You really can't control what happens economically to your company at a macro level. Using your talents to do work others can't creates a portfolio that separates you from the pack if you do have to make a career change in a recession.
4. This isn't soccer, and you didn't start your career to play for the tie. Seriously, if you are a player and a top performer, can you really live with playing it safe? It's like watching a soccer game that's tied 1-1 and both teams kick it around the midfield for the last 10 minutes of the game. Make a play. Win the game. Don't worry about offending someone you're better than. You're good at what you do, not a soccer coach.
That's all I got. Don't be scared, and remember that it's OK to be selfish with your own performance. I'm not telling you to run over everyone in the workplace or to be uncaring to those who have lost jobs, etc. I'm telling you not to get frozen from a career standpoint because you see the body count climbing around you.
The quickest way to become part of the body count? By not bringing your A-game and being selfish when it comes to demanding top performance and creativity when you're on the job.
Shine on you crazy diamond...