Your Job is a Roller Coaster: And Other Career Advice from My Dad
My dad is my role model for everything in business. He is incredibly well respected in his industry, great at his job, and dedicated (probably to a fault). I joke, “He’ll die at his desk.” And while I do hope someday he decides to retire, trust me when I say, I’m not holding my breath!
In my early 20s, as a recent college graduate, there was a piece of advice my dad used to give me that frankly, frustrated me beyond belief. I’d call him and tell him something awesome that happened at work that day. Maybe I closed a $10,000 donation for my organization, or was given an award, or just felt awesome that day. Instead of saying, “Great job, kiddo” or something like it, instead he’d say, “Don’t forget, though, your job is a roller-coaster. There are ups and downs.” Years later, that advice has come to be some of the most important in my career. I know that there you cannot experience or appreciate the highest highs in your job or your career without also knowing the feeling of the lowest lows. And while my dad dwelling on the roller-coaster during my high times might have been frustrating, it’s also been truly helpful when I’m in the lowest lows because I know that the roller-coaster always goes back up!
To continue on the Father’s Day theme of advice from dads, here are a few more pieces of regular career advice my dad has given me that have shaped my career through the years (in addition to that most important roller-coaster analogy):
- Don’t burn bridges. It’s a piece of advice given often, but it’s something I’ve learned directly from my dad (and he reminds me of this important advice regularly). We’ve all been in a position where we want to yell “I QUIT!” and walk out of a job. But whenever I’ve had that thought, I’ve heard my father in my head saying “Don’t burn bridges.” You can’t control anyone else torching a bridge in front of or behind you, and you can’t always leave situations on good terms. You can, however, avoid holding the matches yourself. Do your best, because you never know which bridges you’ll have to pass over again.
- Do what you love, and not just what’s expected of you. My dad notoriously loves to manage projects, not people. He’s never wanted to be everyone’s boss or the guy in charge. He’s much more passionate about the projects he can do that are interesting and impactful. For both women and men, there is an expectation that we should want to be the CEO, we should want to manage a huge department, and we should want to sign someone’s paycheck. But that kind of success isn’t for everyone. It’s more important to get excitement and joy out of what you do than it is to be the head honcho.
- You can have friends at work. My father has dedicated 30+ years of service to the same company, and spent much of that time working with the same people in the small town I grew up in. Not only were those people my father’s co-workers, they were his friends. Their children became friends with my brother and me, and their wives friends with my mother. There’s a notion that you should always separate personal from professional, but it’s not always necessary. I look at the friendships my father has formed, and the people around him who respect him not just as a professional, but as a man, and I know how important it is for me to create solid relationships like those in my own career.
On this Father’s Day, I thank my dad and all of the great fathers to the world’s “Career Girls.” It is your solid advice, understanding, and steadfast support that helps women climb the ladder. It certainly has helped me. Without my dad, there would be no Career Girl Network, and I would not be who I am. Pretty amazing, dad!