Your Character Primer for Work and Life

Whether you are Starting Out or Restarting Your Career

Be Careful
Your permanent record, for the rest of your life, begins NOW. Enjoy this clean slate. Embrace this fresh reputation. Think about what kind of person you want to be. Take care to cultivate a reputation that you can live with for the rest of your working life. Think of your reputation as your little shadow because it will follow you wherever you go.

Be Grateful
No job is beneath you. Parking cars, dog-sitting, scrubbing floors, peddling fast food, pouring coffee, waiting tables. Some very successful people started out doing these kinds of jobs. Some of them still do these jobs. Any job that pays you for a legal activity is an honorable job, and it probably pays you more in a month than people in many parts of the world make in a year. Appreciate the opportunity to work, and do your best regardless of the position.

Be Appropriate
It does matter what people think of you. Maintaining your individuality is great. But a certain amount of conformity and maturity in appearance and behavior is expected in the work place. You are expected to look, act and dress professionally and appropriately. So save the majority of your self-expression for your personal life. If you are adamant about looking and acting exactly how you want, consider self-employment.

Be Prompt
There is nothing fashionable or impressive about being late. So be on time for everything. Tardy is tawdry.

Be Willing
Enthusiasm matters a great deal. Employers notice people who are regularly willing to take on the tough assignments and the boring but necessary assignments, and who are willing stay late, come in early, skip lunch and do whatever is necessary to get the job done well and on time. If you can’t be enthusiastic about what you’re doing, get another job.

Be Still
Work on your listening skills. There is a reason we all have two ears and only one mouth. Use them proportionately.

Be Joyful
Find joy and meaning in what you do. Life is too short to have a job that makes you miserable. Abraham Lincoln once said that most people are about as happy as they make their minds up to be. If you can’t decide to be happy in your job, then move on. Remember “Joy is Contagious.” Yours will “infect” the people you work with and make for a more pleasurable, meaningful work environment.

Be Nice
Take time to acknowledge and really see the people you encounter in all types of jobs throughout your day. Be courteous and caring to everyone, regardless of status or position. Call the store clerk or receptionist by name. Don’t know it? Read the name tag or name plate. Ask how her day is. And mean it. Say “please” and “thank you.” Make eye contact. Take the time to make the personal connection. As you mature, you will come to realize that it’s not who you know, it’s who you are. Trust me, you’ll feel better about yourself and look better in others’ eyes if you operate with this basic human kindness.

Be Moral
Take the high road. The term “Business Ethics” doesn’t have to be an oxymoron. As a wise man — or cricket –, Jiminy Cricket, once said, “Always let your conscience be your guide.” Listen to the cricket.

Be Better
You are a work in progress. Your status quo isn’t good enough. Who you are today doesn’t have to be who you’ve been or who you’ll be 10 or 20 years from now. Strive to improve yourself professionally and, more importantly, personally.

Be Patient
It’s essential to remember that “patience is a virtue” — especially as it relates to finding the ideal job, or awaiting promotions and pay increases. Like Rome, your career won’t be built in a day! Everything takes time, persistence, a game plan, a belief in oneself and the right attitude. Everyone has a story of struggles, moments of truth and his or her journey. Everyone starts somewhere. Although it may be difficult to understand now, you really will enjoy and appreciate what you have much more if you have to work for it and toward it.