The best career advice I ever got and will ever give comes from Herb Cohen, the famous negotiating guru, who taught me that in business you should “care … but not that much.” Herb believed that mastery of your ego and the confidence to walk away separated the truly successful from the worker drones.
You are not your work. Your work can be a source of satisfaction and a channel for your talents and interests or it can be a means to fund a meaningful life or find a partner. And while you want to do your best and earn your salary, you don’t always have to be right, you don’t always have to win, and you don’t always have to fight for your point of view.
Developing a sense of concerned detachment enables you to see the politics, personalities, and pitfalls in every situation. Reducing your ego investment in what you do and how you do it allows you to worry less about your positioning, your stature, and how right you are and accept the realities and absurdities of corporate life.
Do your best. Offer your best advice. Make your best argument. Then back off. Be aware of the situation and the pressures that you and others face. In most cases, whatever is going to happen will probably happen and the relative or incremental value of Plan A versus Plan B will be hard to measure. Sometimes you have to step back and let the boss or the majority have its way. Sometimes their ideas will work.
Care about your colleagues. Care about your energy and inputs. Care about the work product, the outputs, and the profits. Care about the business. But stay emotionally at arm’s length. Care … but not too much. And you’ll have a perspective for career success.
Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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