I live in Portland. I work in Seattle. And on those long, lonely drives down I-5, returning home from a two- or three-day trip to the corporate office, I’ve got a lot of time to think.
But as my brain spins through the trip, tallying up ideas and new projects generated by days I pack full of meetings, one thing that endlessly frustrates me is that I can’t write it down. (Ahem, I’m driving.)
Turns out, one rainy night was a blessing in disguise.
Rewind a bit: at one point I worked with a person who was, shall we say, not a good fit. Her attitudes and actions were inconsistent with the culture we intend—mutual respect, trust in your colleagues’ professionalism and good judgment, and a workplace where everyone contributes and everyone wins.
It was a bad scene. And I’d been beat up by it for more than three years. Since I’m loathe to speak badly of anyone, let’s just call her Lord Voldemort: She Who Must Not Be Named.
I was literally on the edge, considering my options—different department, different company, different industry, different career. Go back to school and get an MBA. Go independent, build my own book of business. I’d laid out all of these options.
What held me back was the knowledge that the rest of my job was awesome. I loved the company, and virtually all of my colleagues. I would lay down in the street for the senior leadership. I am fascinated by the industry—the business of buildings, urban development and helping businesses find spaces that create a competitive advantage. It’s a dynamic mixture of strategy and creativity.
But Voldemort was making me miserable.
As I drove, I started a list in my head. And because I couldn’t write it down, I was forced to memorize it as I built it, thinking through and rethinking my priorities for business and for life.
Here are the three business goals I chose for myself:
- Create and share intellectual property. I love writing, teaching and developing marketing tools, and I want a role that puts me squarely in a development space, not merely management of the status quo.
- Contribute to the strategic direction of my company. I might not be the CEO or even the CMO, but I have reached a level where I feel I have something to offer creatively and in business/industry acumen that can take our firm to the next level. This goal satisfies the passionate brainstormer, the “idea vending machine” in me.
- Thrive in a positive and passionate work environment.
Number three, I realized, was missing. Lord Voldemort had created a culture of suspicion, a “gotcha” mentality that pitted colleagues against each other. She treated everyone above her with kid gloves, and everyone below her like dirt.
But how to change that? I did it on that drive.
My 15 minutes are up, so I’ll be back next time to tell you what happened. In the meantime, do you have 15 minutes to spare? What are your three business goals, and are you achieving them?