10 Things I’ve Learned About How To Get Ahead

I have learned more from my failures than my successes.

A job that didn’t work out: “You’re a fake it till you make it kind of gal.”

But branding is exactly that. It is about having a vision of an alternative future that is better than the present, but which can be reached. If you’re literal, and rational, and focused on the weeds you cannot do it.

That comment was important feedback disguised as snark. I need to be in a job where I can spin straw into gold.

I have learned from people who told me to stop, because then I knew I had to go forward.

“Don’t write that on your blog.”

I have learned not to care about office politics. 

If you want to get something done, find people who are like-minded and a good project, and help them. Many times I’ve been sidelined. You are not alone, if it’s ever happened to you.

Fortunately I found others, bosses and colleagues and mentees alike, who had a similar mindset. I joined with them to work on office projects that were wildly successful, as well as interagency initiatives that went beyond a single office or agency. They worked because they were dictated by best practice and the needs of the customer, not the confusing and arcane blood feuds fistfights that tend to run wild in every organization, large and small.

I have decided it’s OK that some people hate me.

A person with a strong personality is polarizing. Some people will think you’re terrific. Other people physically want to vomit when they see you around. At the ripe old age of 43 I’ve decided to let that one go and stop apologizing for being myself.

I seek out opposites to work with.

Any discussion with people who have worked with me closely will yield the discovery that I tend to change my mind a lot until I find a direction that works. The people who do well with that are generally exactly the opposite. So I’ll say, “Let’s do X” and they’ll say “sure Dannielle” and then they’ll wait a couple of days until I change my mind twice.

I especially appreciate calm, organized and diplomatic extroverts who handle meetings well.

I look to do things I don’t know how to do, but only in my area of focus.

They keep telling me I should learn how to code but I have faced the fact that I will not do this. Instead I will find ways to automate coding so that I don’t have to waste my time in the weeds.

I don’t like to be told what to do and I don’t like bossing other people around either.

The right word is anti-authoritarian. I gravitate toward bosses who only care about results and who offer support to solve the problems I can’t. That’s the type of boss I strive to be, too.

I ask for help often and I offer it just as much.

There is no human way I can do all the things I want to do in my job. But other people can do those things and they want to. So I work within the system to find ways they can have that opportunity to grow their skills without the risk of getting their skulls bashed in for failing.

Similarly I try to be there any time someone asks me for help, even just a short conversation because in the end that is what we are all here to do.

I apologize.

Sometimes people abuse my trust and that makes me angry. Sometimes I can be insensitive. I am sad to say that I am human, and this means fouling up sometimes. It’s very hard for me to apologize, but I try to do it more rather than less because it breaks my lousy ego.

It occurred to me the other day that when we die, we’re remembered for being a good or bad person and not for winning the Communicator of the Year award.

I never stop.

When my daughter was a baby she used to turn her head in her crib, over and over and over again, until finally one day she rolled herself over. I hold that image in my mind, of persistence – she is the hardest worker on the planet that I know.

Everybody learns their own lessons their own way.

These are a few thoughts that came to my mind, but then again I’m not you. Good luck in discovering your unique path.


All opinions my own. Photo credit: Georgios Karamadis via Flickr.


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Carol L. Davison

Love it. Especially the illustration of your baby turning her head over and over until she rolled herself over. You created a fabulous picture for me to hold in my mind. I owe you one.