Your best and worst days at work can be a road map to future career satisfaction.
After a lengthy career in marketing, I’ve had my highs and lows. My best day was spent at an advertising photo shoot on a hillside orange grove in (appropriately) Orange County, California. It was an idyllic 70-degree day in January. The scenery was picturesque – a large sheltering oak hung over the edge of a large pond nestled among the rolling hills of fragrant orange trees. The warm California sun was a welcome respite from the frigid East Coast. The center of operations for the shoot was inside a horse stable that was easily twice the size of my home and 10x more luxurious. I had to pinch myself as a reminder that I was getting paid for this. The result of the day was lots of great shots and a beautiful, effective ad campaign. Even more than 15 years later, I can still feel the sun on my face, see the reflection of the majestic oak in the water, and savor the satisfaction of everything coming together just as it should. That day lives on in my memory as the perfect work day.
[She] narrowed her eyes and hissed, “I guess because you’re new, you don’t know how things work around here.”
Of course, there have been a few bad days too. In the early weeks of a new job where I was hired to lead divisional marketing, I ran into a cabal of mid-level business managers, who prior to my arrival, had been accustomed to (for lack of a better term) bossing around the marketing team. One day in a tense meeting, things came to a head when I insisted that all requests come to me rather than directly to individuals on my team. As head of the department, it didn’t seem like an outrageous request to me. Some yelling ensued and one of the group narrowed her eyes and hissed, “I guess because you’re new, you don’t know how things work around here.” It immediately conjured a scene from an old western where the black-hatted villain saunters up to the new sheriff and says, “Yer not from around these parts, are ya?” When I went home that I day, I felt like I had been run over by herd of wild ponies. But in the end, the good guys persevered and I was able to establish effective boundaries around the marketing team and introduce processes that enabled the team to operate more effectively and with less stress.
I share these stories because it’s important to have perspective. I’ve been lucky to have been part of teams that made big and important things happen at the places I’ve worked, and it’s been a bonus to enjoy myself along the way. And after some especially difficult days, I have occasionally felt like I've been caught in a stampede. I survived those experiences and learned that each time I pushed forward, I became stronger. To lead change, you must overcome resistance. It’s uncomfortable and scary. Many times I had my doubts and wanted to retreat, but I didn’t and when I finally saw the vision become a reality (even winning over the doubters), it was so sweet!
There are the days when you’ve performed your tenth miracle of the day and your business partners wonder why you didn’t get around to the eleventh thing on the list.
Marketers are consultants, strategists, gurus, and magicians who work in a function that many of our business partners don’t understand. There are the days when you’re over the moon because your campaign is exceeding all expectations. There are the days when you’ve performed your tenth miracle of the day and your business partners wonder why you didn’t get around to the eleventh thing on the list.
I invite you to share your best and worst days in the comments below. And if you’re looking to advance in your career and derive more satisfaction from what you do each day, but can’t identify or overcome the obstacles that stand in your way, please reach out to me for a complimentary discovery session where we can explore how you can advance in a career you love with balance and grace.