Note July 2022: This post was written in 2010, but feels timely as ever.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the workplace and about my kids’ school endeavors. In both situations, some people are excellent role models and some people are perfect examples of what not to do. This has made me wonder “what’s ideal? What rules should we operate under?”
We give our kids rules to follow, yet I see these same rules violated in the workplace all the time. Some rules need to be broken; most rules won’t be considered valid until the person experiences the opposite behavior.
So with all this in mind, I thought I’d type up a quickie list of things I believe in, as it relates to my profession or my kids’ schooling; I’ll leave out politics, religion, the sad state of the music industry, Apple versus Adobe, and alien conspiracies.
The following list is in no particular order. Feel free to add more in the comments.
If you’re not going to do it right, why bother? Have pride in your work.
- A sense of craftsmanship
Your work is your craft, and you should continually strive to improve, no matter how small the improvement.
- Helping people
Treat everyone as if they’re a friend or cousin, and do your best (within reason) to help them. Unless, of course, they’re continually taking advantage of your generosity. In those cases, you should put their name on every telemarketing and fundraising list you can think of.
The golden rule: treat others as you’d like to be treated. Better yet, follow the platinum rule: treat others they way they’d like to be treated.
If someone frequently lies, stretches the truth, or misrepresents things, how can you possibly trust them or feel comfortable working with them?
Take care of your obligations, every time. If it isn’t possible for some reason, don’t cover it up — be open about it and look for alternative solutions.
Being overly rigid and unwilling to listen to alternatives will bite you in the ass someday.
Being clear is extremely important. So is listening to others (not just paying them lip service). If you’re not listening to others, how do you know you’re on the right track with a project or relationship? As we’ve all been told, communication is a two-way street: If you don’t inform others of your intentions, provide context for decisions, or give honest feedback, your relationship will sour.
- Sharing knowledge
Ignorance helps no one, except immoral politicians and businessmen. Raise the bar. Share what you’ve learned with others.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help
We’re all n00bs at some point. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
Do overdo it just because you can. Clutter isn’t just limited to your closet; websites and e-learning courses frequently suffer from visual and informational clutter, too. It takes restraint and discipline to keep things simple.
Everyone should be treated equally and have access to the same resources. Building web sites and e-learning courses in an accessible manner is easier than ever. There is no excuse for an inaccessible product. (Note: accessible content does not always mean an equal user experience; for example, reading a transcript of a video may not be as fun as watching the video itself. Regardless, the content of the video is accessible to all.)
- Don’t be greedy
Money is a means to an end — no more, no less. Don’t become like all those Wall Street parasites we’ve read about.
- Enjoy what you have
We all suffer from daydreams about how much better things would be ‘if only I had thing X.’ Personally, I often forget that today I DO have the thing X I wanted 5 years ago. The problem is that the definition of thing X keeps changing, and I lose sight of what I’ve already accomplished. Many of us need to step back and realize that we probably have more than we realize and take some of it for granted every day.