I thought it would be fun to provide some lessons learned that I typically give when I am mentoring a colleague or just having coffee with a friend. Not everything here will apply to you, but some of these suggestions could help you when you are in a bind.
As a good friend of mine once taught me, let happiness be your guide, and always remember that “misery is optional.” If you decide to change jobs, do it because you are running to an opportunity, not because you are running away from something. When in doubt, be yourself.
Never be afraid to show your passion, your skills, or your point of view. Have a plan for yourself; not one that is measured in days or months, but rather, in milestones and goals. Having this plan will give you purpose in a time of boredom and strength when you are stuck in a dead end. Your plan will guide your actions when you seek new employment or a change of field.
Hard decisions should have “short legs.” I have learned that procrastinating on the tough choices creates stress for you and your environment. Good examples of this include hiring and firing, decommissioning a product, delivering bad news to a board or a boss. Set a schedule to collect all the data needed to make a decision and then execute with confidence. In my experience, long decision times frustrate people and customers and affect the agility of business.
You don’t have to like the people you work with, but it helps. Affinity in business helps when the going gets tough and the hours grow long. Build broad network connections in your working adventures; they will have lasting effects in your career and can even make your day-to-day life easier.
It is OK to say “I don’t know.” This phrase has a very powerful effect on people. When I was a CEO, in my first board meeting, I felt that I had to know everything. I have since learned that what’s really key to credibility is knowing your data, having a clear point of view and having good judgment.
Being a working woman is certainly tough, but it has been a rewarding life choice for me. On the other hand, nothing can match the happiness and serenity that I see in the eyes of the children of hard working moms like my sister, Anna. To these women who made the really tough choice to stay home and raise happy and healthy children I say, “job well done!” Most importantly, be happy with your choices. As Oprah says, “Try to live the life that you want.”