Set yourself up for success with words to live by at work

A few weeks ago I shared some life-lessons learned through experiences on the job. It appears that a number of you have earned your PhD in the school of life, as you responded to my suggestion to send in the lessons you’ve learned. Here is a sampling of the responses:

·        Be careful what you say. If you have something that you know should be held in confidence, whether someone told you or you discovered it on your own, keep it to yourself. If you reveal it, eventually everyone will know you are the source. Then you will either be regarded as a backstabber, underminer, or just plain untrustworthy. Then you are out of the loop, permanently.

·        Never steal the credit for someone else’s idea, even if it seems to be something insignificant. If your colleagues know you are careful to give them the credit they deserve, they will always want to share their ideas with you and work with you.

·        Never forget that the workplace is like a submarine. You may not think so, but people know more about you than you realize. They remember things about you and things that you’ve done; things that you may have forgotten. They know your strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities in a very short time.

·        Make new people feel welcome. Introduce yourself to new employees. It only takes a couple of minutes and it plants the seed for a trusting relationship. Anyone who starts a new job feels nervous and a little lost. Even if the person isn’t in your department, break the ice by explaining who you are and what role your department plays in the company. Put away your political feelings-don’t avoid this person because you’re a manager and he/she isn’t (or vice versa), or because you feel it is disloyal to the worker who left the position, or because your work doesn’t interface (someday it might). Don’t badmouth other employees to this new employee, it makes you look bad. Someday, this new employee could be you!

·        Don’t worry about things you can’t control.

·        When someone does something you don’t like, it doesn’t mean they don’t like you.

·        People eventually move along, whether it’s the good ones, the bad ones, the irritating ones, or the ones you thought would never leave. Another reader’s lesson: Time is a great equalizer. Many times you can win just by being patient.

·        Approach challenges by exploiting your strengths and talents, instead of trying to rival those of someone else. No one can set you apart on your merits, if you don’t do it yourself.

·        You are the only one with the power to change your life. Depending on or waiting for someone else to do it is an exercise in futility. If you hear yourself grumbling about your company or your job, it’s time to do something about it. If you are full of excuses and reasons for not taking the first steps, you don’t want it badly enough.

·        Choose your battles carefully. Avoid always fighting or never fighting for what you feel is right. If you pick fights on the small things, your colleagues won’t know what issues are really important to you. You will eventually lose the impact of your input because people will say, "He always combative about everything." People will also avoid communicating with you. If you never stand up for what you want, you’ll look like a wimp who can be taken advantage of.

·        Don’t ignore your enemies. It falls into the same category as knowing your competition. If you pay no attention, you can be oblivious to the moves they are making, which could hurt you later. This doesn’t mean you need to focus all your energy on them. It only means you need to keep them in your peripheral vision.

·        Be careful what you ask for, you may get it. For example, my friend wanted to travel to exotic places in her career but now she realizes just how exhausting and isolated it is to live out of a suitcase.

·        Seek out successful people to socialize with and learn from, even if they intimidate you at first. Success really does breed success when you are elevated by good ideas and positive attitudes. If you associate with negative people or mediocre people, your own standards gradually become lowered and you don’t even realize it’s happening.

·        Before you take action on something of an ethical nature, always ask yourself, "If my parents were in the room, would they approve of this decision?"

Thanks to all of you for your wonderful words of wisdom!

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
About Joan Lloyd
Joan Lloyd & Associates provide
FREE subscription to receive Joan's article by email

Email Joan to submit your question for consideration for publication, request permission to reprint an article for distribution, or for information about carrying Joan Lloyd's weekly column in your publication, or on your Internet or Intranet site. Visit to search an archive of more than 1700 of Joan's articles.
© Joan Lloyd & Associates, Inc.