Be the CEO of your Career

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My colleague was raging.

I honestly thought that he was going to pop a blood vessel and give himself a brain bleed or something. He was yelling and swearing and demanding that if someone has something to say, they should say it to his face.

It’s a scenario that I am very familiar with. Perhaps I am unlucky. I don’t know.

But everywhere I have worked, at least one colleague has had an anger / personality issue that results in paranoid delusion, hysterical yelling and a suppressed sense of humour.

I have noticed a couple of common themes with all of these angry people. They all take themselves way too seriously. And they are all terrible CEO’s.

Now, I understand that we all want to give our best. We all want to perform our job as well as we can. But when it metastasizes into hysteria over minor transgressions and paranoia about what colleagues say about you, you’re being stupid.

I mean that quite literally.

Professionalism aside, if you are stewing about something that someone did (or didn’t do), or are playing out elaborate scenarios in your head about how everyone is out to get you and discredit you, you can’t give 100% of your focus to your job.

It pulls you away from the present and dilutes your potency to work on the task that you are working on now. You will make stupid mistakes.

Here’s the thing that some people seem to miss. You are the CEO’s of your own business life. Let’s call it You Inc.

You Inc. operates in a particular market and has certain skills that are in demand.

Another company, Corp Inc, needs those skills to maximise its performance. A contract is drawn up for You Inc to provide services, usually 1 x FTE, to Corp Inc, and they pay an agreed sum to You Inc.

As the only employee of You Inc, you will be the FTE that You Inc provides to support Corp Inc in this contract.

You are now the CEO and Employee of the Month. Congratulations!

With this new perspective, take a fresh look at your work life.

Is your primary loyalty to You Inc, or to Corp Inc? As the CEO of You Inc, it should be a no-brainer. Without You Inc performing well and taking care of its resources, it cannot provide services to Corp Inc. As those of the religious persuasion would say, thy cup must runneth over.

Yet, so many people put Corp Inc first.

Let’s say it is 3:30 on a Friday afternoon. You Inc is nearing the end of a busy week, and as the sole employee, you are looking forward to a weekend off.

But Corp Inc has other ideas. You are approached to work tomorrow from midday until late.

Most people just accept that it is a fact of life, and, usually grudgingly, cancel their plans so that they can work.

But you’re the CEO of You Inc. Let’s look at it from that perspective.

Is it in your company’s best interests to make its only employee work on his / her day off? What will that do for the morale in your company?

Now, I’m not saying that you should be unhelpful. But as the CEO of You Inc, you’d better make sure that Corp Inc is paying well for short-notice overtime or offering Monday off, especially if it is above and beyond the contract’s terms.

And take care of your employee. Is it really fair on them (you)?

If it is workable, and you are happy to do it, then do it. But if it isn’t contractual, it should never be an obligation.

As an under-25 in the technology industry, I’ve done my fair share of overtime. But only if I am given a reasonable amount of notice, am compensated reasonably, or am offered time in lieu.

The thing is, we are all CEO’s in our careers whether we like it or not. But if you don’t realise that you are your own CEO, you just perform like a crappy CEO. And if the CEO isn’t doing his job well, his employees begin to suffer.

You find yourself doing overtime every day for no extra money.

Your personal life doesn’t exist anymore.

You start to feel burnt out.

You begin to wonder why people treat you like a doormat.

It’s your fault. You’ve been a shitty CEO and your employee is paying the price.

I’m not saying that you should become uncooperative or lazy, but you have to behave like a CEO and take care of your employee, and that means drawing some lines to protect them.

Without boundaries, Corp Inc will squeeze you like an orange to get every last drop of energy out of you and throw you on the discard pile when you have been expended.

“It’s just business,” they’ll say.

Would Corp Inc ask another company that it has an contract with to work overtime for nothing? Perhaps. Would the other company oblige? Of course not!

“A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent” – Martin Luther King Jr.

So take back control. Respect yourself enough to not work for free. You will reclaim your personal life, and your employee, you, will be a healthier, happier and more productive employee.

Better than that, when you are the CEO and representing your brand, you won’t get as upset about things that happen at work. You have taken a step back. You’re free from the slavery that is being a martyr.

The martyrs will yell at you. They will call you lazy and uncooperative when you affirm that you will not be cancelling your plans at short notice to work for free.

But don’t pop a blood vessel. You can respond like a CEO.

“It’s just business.”

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