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May 21, 2019

Five Things I Learned From My Dad That Shaped My Career


Five Things I Learned From My Dad That Shaped My Career

By: Tony Rhoton, Compass One Senior Director of Talent Acquisition

We can all think of a few things that we could say are words, philosophies, or actions we live by. I know I share thoughts on what little wisdom I have amassed in my career when asked by others. Late last year, I took part in a leadership panel discussion, where I was asked, “Who do you feel influenced your career the most”? I did not even pause. It was no doubt my parents, especially my dad.

Just two days after that panel, my dad, David, unexpectedly passed away. This year my dad would have celebrated his 69th birthday. Since he passed away, I have reflected a lot on our time together. Attempting to pull from all the wisdom he seemed to have, it felt fitting to honor him by reflecting on all the lessons (both personal and professional) he taught me. Here are five that I feel has made the most direct impact on me.

Be Confident in Yourself! Do not let others define your self-worth.

This one, you have probably heard before. Matter of fact, there are several articles written about it you can easily find all around the internet (likely, because self-confidence and self-worth drastically shape your personal and professional relationships). You must first have a deep appreciation for yourself. Letting others define you will only hold you back from your full potential.

Today, we are in such a digital age; maintaining confidence and self-worth can be hard when comparison is only a swipe or a click away. It is far too easy to get caught up trying to please others by becoming someone you are not. Escaping from the temptation to do so will help you avoid feeling unhappy and unfulfilled. Stated otherwise? Being someone you’re not will leave you passionless.

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou

Embrace the Unknown. Do not Fear It!

The unknowns can be stimulating for some and downright terrifying for others. This is visible in the professional world stemming from a single word: change. Some are just not ready or willing to allow the necessary change to take place and struggle with the idea of stepping into the unknown. Without change, we cannot have progress, and without progress, we as individuals cannot improve or take that needed leap we know is in our best interest.

We have all heard the buzzword, “change agent”. In this Forbes article, Glenn Llopis puts it this way: “becoming a change agent is critical to a leader’s survival”. If there is anything I have learned in my personal life and career, it is that embracing change is the first step to becoming a champion of change. How quickly we adapt to change is likely a critical element to long-term success.

Compromise. You Do Not Always Have To Win.

In any typical professional environment there are always those little (and sometimes big) disagreements on how to proceed. We see it in politics, and we even deal with it in our personal lives. When I think about the many times, early in my career, I sought advice on how to manage through obstacles caused by disagreements; I remember the feeling of being judged as if I were part of the problem. I was counseled that there cannot always be two winners in every race. I of course, didn’t want to hear that because, I was right!

Well, not right.

Each side and the argument to support the various sides are generally compelling to those that are on that side of the disagreement and there is not always a clear winner. When I started to learn how to navigate this land mine-laden office conundrum, what my dad meant became clearer. Sometimes there is a little give and take. Find the common ground but always ask yourself, is it really that important to win out? Is it worth affecting your relationships to win every time? I am not saying you have to give away everything you stand for and let others lead while you perpetually follow but there is a balance. You have to find it, but partnership breeds relationship. Look at the bigger picture and find a way; there always is one. Compromise requires adjusting your position, which isn’t easy, but you will have your equal time in the spotlight.

Feedback Isn’t Criticism. It’s Directions for Improvement.

Growing up, I never felt as though I received criticism. Mainly, because my parents both managed the feedback method with a sense of artistic style. A style that has not been replicated very often, outside my childhood home. We have all heard there is a right way and a wrong way to deliver feedback. There is also a way we should receive feedback.

We all get feedback from time to time. Some people are good at delivering feedback but those receiving it, can still feel crushed or try to defend their actions to a point that they then really deserve another round of feedback. There are also those who are poor at delivering feedback. Regardless of whether or not the person receiving feedback is adept at taking it in, if the delivery is terrible, the feedback will just feel bad. The key here is two parts:

Look at the true spirit of the message. Are there actions in which one should take that will improve performance? If so, consider it regardless of the delivery because there is room to improve.

Ask clarifying questions to ensure you understand the full picture. When you understand feedback with pinpointed clarity and remove emotion, you can have a clear outline of a road to success.

Just Be a Good Human.

What does it mean to be a good human? Being a good human is defined from within. Each person has to find what that means for themselves, but also, to those around them. I always say, use the Golden Rule. If we truly treated others how we want to be treated, we would have awesome relationships, both personal and professional. However, not everyone does that. That does not mean you cannot live by that philosophy, just because others do not.

Remember tip number one? Be confident in who you are. Here is your chance to show the world the person they should try to emulate. You can be the person the office misses when you are not around or the person that lifts others up when they need it. I for one may not ever aspire to be famous, but the people who I work and interact with will always get the best me I can give. Just maybe that will rub off a little and bring a little joy to those who need it most.

These are just five of the many things I took away as life lessons from my dad. For many out there this might seem too simple. Well, my life teacher was a simple man but that does not mean he was not wise. I am sure there are others who have had someone in their life or still there that shaped and or continues to shape who you are both personally and professionally. Count yourself lucky, we all need those people in our lives whose experiences can give us a sense of direction and make life a little easier to navigate.

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Categories: Our Culture
Written By:

Tony Rhoton

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