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How to Succeed with Integrity in a Competitive Workplace

How to Succeed with Integrity in a Competitive Workplace

When you work in a competitive environment, you’re going to have to leap over more than a few hurdles. You may have to deal with arrogant bosses, employee politics, rampant discrimination, and cruel intimidation in order to survive a potentially hostile workplace. But don’t worry—you can rise above it all. Separate yourself from the negativity and preserve your integrity by investing in your own success above all else.

1. Strive for excellence.

“Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them.”

—Napoleon Bonaparte

Take care to act upon your ambition, and let your principles be your guide. Do not just talk about what you are going to do. (In fact, avoid needless conversations with others about your career goals altogether.) The people you work with will twist your words around, especially if you cannot deliver on your promises. So make promises to yourself—and then keep them. Your actions will speak volumes to those around you. Once you’ve shown your co-workers what you can do, they will respect you for your ability to show up for the tasks at hand.

Learn from your mistakes. Should you make an error, do not allow yourself to get dragged down to the level of obnoxious co-workers. Ignore their comments about your mistakes, and learn from the errors you make. Any mistake can be converted into a learning experience if you take the time to explore what happened. And if others make mistakes, be sure to give them the space to learn as well. It’s not worth your energy to taunt them about their own errors—as an ambitious person, you simply don’t have time for that.

Put forth the effort on every project, aim for what you believe is right, and be proud of what you do. Your passion and persistence will move you up the ranks in a competitive workplace, especially if you perform with integrity and tact. You define the measurement of your own success: the only person you have to please is yourself.

2. Build and rebuild your reputation.

“Character isn’t inherited. One builds it daily by the way one thinks and acts, thought by thought, action by action. If one lets fear or hate or anger take possession of the mind, they become self-forged chains.”

—Helen Gahagan Douglas

It is up to you to begin forging strong bonds with your impressions among your co-workers. If you are starting a new job, then it is pretty easy. Simply present yourself in the best light from day one. If you hit the ground running, your reputation among your colleagues will grow naturally.

But what if you’ve been working with a corporation for many years? Well, it may be time to rebuild your reputation. Let go of pride for a spell, and find what needs within the company you can fulfill with your skill set. If you continue to cultivate these strengths, your co-workers will certainly appreciate exactly what value you bring to the company. From there, you can start to build other skills that will further raise your profile within the corporation—and that is something you can be proud of.

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Your reputation among your colleagues will grow with each of your successes. Your employer will trust you with more responsibilities. Others will look to you for advice on the way up: feel free to give it. Remind them, however, that there is no better teacher than learning from your mistakes.

If you take the time to cultivate your character on the path to success, you will inevitably preserve your reputation in the process.

3. Roll with the punches.

“I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes.”

—Edna St. Vincent Millay

Practice successful recoveries. Every time you make a mistake, look for the opportunity to learn.

Oftentimes in the workplace, an error could cost you: perhaps you will be demoted (or worse, fired.) In these cases, be sure to mourn your losses. Blow off a little steam, talk to a confidant or mentor, or take a well-deserved vacation. Set a time limit on your period of grief, however. Once you have allowed the moment to pass, roll with the punches.

You will be glad for the break. It will allow you to take an objective look at what happened, how you can regroup, and how you can avoid making the same mistake twice. If you have to look for a new job, don’t be afraid. Just put your best foot forward and rely upon those skills you’ve been cultivating. Champion your successes to the world and you’ll advance your career.

If you are returning to the same workplace after a hiatus, you’ll be ready to face everyone you work with. Your co-workers and employers will be impressed by your ability to rebound, and they will respect you all the more. Also, they will recognize that you are a human just like them. More often than not, they’re going to be delighted to have you back.

Find strength in your mistakes, and bounce back twice as high.

4. Respect others’ differences.

“The only difference between man and man all the world over is one of degree, and not of kind, even as there is between trees of the same species. Where in is the cause for anger, envy or discrimination?”

—Mahatma Gandhi

Nowadays, you can find many diverse cultures and beliefs in the workplace. Many times the manifestation of these differences can be a beautiful, natural part of belonging to an organization. In other times, the closed-minded natures of some co-workers can be difficult to navigate. Be sure to practice openness to what others believe, and do not seek to impress your own beliefs on your colleagues.

Let it be said: there are monsters in the workplace: misogynists, bigots, racists, narcissists, sociopaths, autocrats, and other types of ignorant miscreants. This is just a fact of life: people are the way they are. People of this ilk are not easily avoided in the workplace, so you must learn to let them be. Free yourself of whatever negativity they may conjure up within you, and focus merely on the work at hand. Let your successes tell your story, and remind yourself that a nasty person is often simply jealous of your ability to thrive.

Politics tell a similar story, but can be harder to deal with. Try to be happy for those who are celebrated for their worth. Sometimes, however, the office jerk gets to move up the ranks—don’t let it get you down. You will have your day. What’s more, since you measure yourself by your own achievements, you can be proud of what you do. Keep on rising above the mundane, and your co-workers will continue to want to see you grow. And don’t get involved in gossip—you are better than that.

Lead by example when it comes to politics. Diversity is meant to be celebrated in the workplace.

5. Foster healthy relationships.

“When we dislike someone, or feel threatened by someone, the natural tendency is to focus on something we dislike about the person, something that irritates us. Unfortunately, when we do this—instead of seeing the deeper beauty of the person and giving them energy—we take energy away and actually do them harm. All they know is that they suddenly feel less beautiful and less confident, and it is because we sapped their energy.”

—James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy

Learn to work around those who are difficult, and praise those who you enjoy working with. It’s a healthy habit to look for the good in people: we’re not all that different after all. Everyone wants things to go smoothly in the workplace, so keep that in mind when the going gets tough.

For whatever reason, you may find that one or more of your colleagues do not like you. Don’t pander to them. You don’t have to please the people you work with, you just have to perform your job well. You may discover that there are like-minded individuals in your workplace: cultivate your working relationships with these people instead of squandering your focus on “how things should be.” By aligning yourself with the right kind of workers, you will be able to do more with your time and energy.

The higher-ups will undoubtedly appreciate your ability to work well with others and when it comes time to promote you, they will sing your praises as well.

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6. Go with the flow, and then go against it.

“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”

—Nelson Mandela

Always get a sense of the room when starting out. Your co-workers may be invested in their own projects, which is good—let them be. At other times, you may find your colleagues would rather laze away the day, or fester in foul moods. In these moments, break away from the bad habits and forge your own path.

In a project-oriented environment, always seek to discover the best way to further the task at hand. Are you the best suited individual for it? Maybe you need to ask for a little help on this one. Don’t be afraid to admit your weaknesses! This is a prime example where going with the flow will help you: allow everyone the opportunity to meet the needs of the company so that the overall project doesn’t suffer. Support those who want a little more responsibility too. Sometimes you have to let go of your ego so that the collective can thrive.

There will be moments when you know you have the right idea, though, and it seems like no one is listening. These are the times when you must take the bull by the horns. You will have to be assertive: share your groundbreaking ideas with the project manager or the entire team in the proper moment. This could mean having a pow-wow with her in her office, or it could mean that you should bring up your idea in a meeting. Whatever the case, gauge the public response to your suggestion beforehand and employ tact in the way you present it.

It’s important to know when to follow the flow, and when it’s right to break tradition.

7. Compete with class.

“He who angers you conquers you.”

—Sister Elizabeth Kenny

Competition is a good thing, and you should learn to love it. This doesn’t mean always winning, this means always doing your best.

When you compete with others in the workplace, think about that reputation you’ve been building. Others may want to put you down, to see you fail. Let them participate in a challenge how they want to, but if they play rough, you don’t necessarily have to play along. Think about how you will go about competing and what it will mean for your growth in the long run.

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Sometimes your co-workers (or your boss) will try to intimidate you. I’ve heard many stories about employers or colleagues who utilize horrible tactics to get what they want. Some of your co-workers might not want you to get the raise you deserve, so they’ll spread lies about you. A manager might threaten to suspend or fire you if you don’t agree to work grueling hours. Or maybe your team wants you to take the fall for a failed project. Don’t crumple under the pressure.

The answer, as always, is to rise above their intimidation. Let the facts of your work speak for themselves. If you have to, confront the person who is trying to intimidate you, and do it in private if you can. Perhaps you will have to do what is being asked of you, but at least you have made your stance known. And you can always voice your opinion through the proper channels. Never forget that you also have legal rights as an employee—if anyone ever harasses you thereby compromising your ability to work, don’t be afraid to blow the whistle on them if necessary.

Remember that you are an asset to your company, so maintain your integrity and you will triumph.

8. Make a lifestyle, not a living.

“A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.”

—Marilyn Monroe

Life is about your journey in the world, and your career is just a slice of your experience. There are so many wonderful places to visit, events to enjoy, and people to meet. Your career is not the end-all be-all of your existence!

Therefore, set aside plenty of time outside of work to cultivate yourself. For example, you could start up a new hobby, watch indy movies, go out on dates, take trips, meet up with like-minded groups of people, grow your investments, and participate in the gazillion sorts of activities in your community—and around the world!

A life spent in service to a corporation will provide you with a regular salary and plenty of work experience. Beyond that, there is very little that a long career will bring you in your twilight years. Strive to develop a balance between your career and your life outside of work.

Your extra-curricular experiences will make you more cultured and happy, and the competitive environment you work in won’t seem so difficult to navigate. Your passion for life will shine both in your work community and outside of it. And you will be pleased with your successes because you didn’t pander to the competition—you rose above it all.

Featured photo credit: taylorward89/Photopin via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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  • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
  • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
  • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
  • Is this aligned with my passion?
  • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

7. Be Prepared to Let Go

It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

The Bottom Line

Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

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