We’re back to work after a wonderful two week siesta with the family. No travel. No stress. Just watching movies, eating and napping sprinkled with a well intentioned but woefully under-executed exercise regimen. Time to shift gears to work-mode. A post I came across during my vacation by Eric Barker @ “Barking Up The Wrong Tree” reminded me of an earlier conversation with a bright (very), ivy league educated, younger colleague. He posed these following questions:
You have achieved modest success in your career, what key learnings can you share? (Modest? Do I ooze underachievement?)
I’m sure you have made mistakes along the way? Would you mind sharing? (Why not start with the wins? Is it that obvious that this captain has weathered too many rough seas?)
Have you made repeated mistakes in the same area and why? (Cringing. How does he know? Do all ex-collegiate hockey players have a reputation of diving into the same scrum and looking for trouble?)
What tips would you share with someone just starting their career? (In contrast to me, that is, one who is just finishing or finished?)
Eric Barker’s post masterfully summarizes the key messages in a book titled Power by Stanford business school professor Jeffrey Pfeffer. I’ve read the book* and thought NO, NO, NO, NO. I found the research findings to be discouraging and against the grain of everything I believed in. They can’t be right. Not in the land of the brave. Not in the land of the free. Not in the land of meritocracy. Yet, as C.S. Lewis’ quote has taught me: ““Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, do you learn.” Pfeffer is right. Yes, he is. My most important lesson. Right here. My area of repeated mistakes. Right here.
Stop thinking doing a good job is the most important thing
“Hard work isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Performance is only loosely tied to who succeeds: The data shows that performance doesn’t matter that much for what happens to most people in most organizations. That includes the effect of your accomplishments on those ubiquitous performance evaluations and even on your job tenure and promotion prospects. Research shows being liked affects performance reviews more than actual performance: In an experimental study of the performance appraisals people received, those who were able to create a favorable impression received higher ratings than did people who actually performed better but did not do as good a job in managing the impressions they made on others.”
I encourage your to read the rest of Eric Barker’s post at this link. He shares important messages for all of us.
*You can find my Amazon Book Review of “Power” at this link. The book was a bit of a grind. Read Barker’s post and you will get the gist of the story.