If work stress has made you act like a jerk to business associates in the past, it’s time to repent! I don’t mean repentance as part of a religious ritual; I am talking about business repentance–which is recognizing today how we may have negatively impacted other people in our career. In other words, accepting and realizing the effect our actions have had on others and letting that knowledge fuel an effort to be nurturing, positive and supportive to the people around us, no matter how effective or accretive they are to our personal career. Business repentance is an opportunity to offset the work stress times when we’ve acted like an a@#hole––that jerk streak that sometimes comes out as we move up the business ladder. Business repentance is definitely career building and career accretive. Yep!
You may be thinking, I am not going to read this type of nonsense right now, and I would totally agree with you at first blush. But it’s my job to see if I can write this blog so that you see the value of what I am talking about. So let me articulate this concept so you will see the benefit to you, your associates and even your family members.
Recently I was sitting poolside at a funky hotel in Dallas, talking to my “new best friend.” We talked about how every successful person, at least that we knew, had an a@#hole streak in them at some time in their career. Then, oh my! He said, “But you (that was me) seem so jovial and balanced.”
I had to pause for a few seconds before I replied. I reminded myself that I had a major a@#hole streak at one time, which I regret everyday. I feel badly for the people I ran over early in my career while I was trying to accomplish unrealistic goals, putting undo pressure on myself to succeed and letting work stress get the better of me. “Now, yes, more balanced and jovial, but I’ve had my streaks, too. I can visualize firing people, throwing people under the bus so to speak, and I feel it as if it were happening today and I regret,” I said.
Yep, I really do regret this and, more importantly, in a crazy way the realization that I was an a@#hole at that time in my career makes me more balanced and jovial today. I’m more open to having a conversation with a dude sitting next to me at a pool. Which is the whole reason for the blog…
But let me give you another example that was recently in the news, the plight of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, whom I have met and admire. His focus and determination regarding Uber led Fortune magazine to characterize him as having a “competitive (meaning ruthless) attitude” when it comes to business, so much so that they called him “rotten to the core.” That drive to succeed is unfortunately what often leads to the a@#hole streak, and Kalanick was swept up in just such an incident when he was caught on camera berating an Uber driver. When the incident was recorded, Kalanick was having not just a bad day, but a bad year, complete with harassment allegations and money problems, not to mention the untimely and tragic death of his mother.
Although he was apparently pleasant throughout his ride before losing his temper, Kalanick’s work stress-fueled bad day led him to proclaim to Fortune that he isn’t an a@#hole, although he has apologized to the driver. In a sense he was required, for the sake of his company, to publicly repent of his business sins, not unlike other famous CEOs such as Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Steve Jobs. But think about it this way, Kalanick has built a $60 billion company, so his repentance should be worth about $120 billion. Maybe that means that for every a@#hole streak you’ll need to double the amount of energy that goes into nurturing and support to offset it.
Repentance is a constant issue for all of us that have had our a@#hole streaks in our career (or even at home.) Think about changing your entire thought process, so you could be twice as positive and helpful as you were negative on the other side. Start that transformation today and watch how everyone around you blossoms. They will smile and brighten up right in front of you and as they do, you will feel a positive warm energy that is exactly the opposite of the feeling you get when the a@#hole shows up.
Working through your business repentance, you will fill more and more of your time with a positive light, more and more people will want to work with you and you will realize that this is much, much more effective and progressive for your career. Plus, your business associates, your friends and your family will all feel the benefit. Business repentance, along with the No Jerks Policy I recently blogged about, can extend not only to who’s around you but also to who’s within you.
Business repentance could also eliminate your predisposition to health problems. When work stress interferes with life and the a@#hole side of you comes out, your body goes into a fight or flight response, which over time can damage your health. But if you are calmer, happier and more centered (all side effects of the type of business repentance I am talking about) physical reactions that come with the a@#hole streaks will subside and you will feel better and even sleep better.
So here is to embracing business repentance, a concept that could just make your career and family the success that you knew it always could be.