Thanksgiving. What Are You Thankful For?

This Thursday is Thanksgiving. By design, it’s a time to give thanks, usually for such things as family, health, relationships, freedom, and prosperity. I am thankful for all those things, too. But then I was thinking, there has to be a lot of other things to be thankful for. My career came to mind. So, as I look back over 49 years in the business world, what am I thankful for? I’ve listed a few of those things below. Hopefully some of these things will apply to you, or you can learn from them.

Good bosses. I recently wrote about characteristics of good bosses and bad bosses. Thanks for some; no thanks for others. But you can learn from both. Be thankful when you have a good boss.

I loved what I did. In my whole career, I never had a job I really didn’t like. The lesson here is, if you don’t enjoy going to work every day, go find something you really like to do, quit, and go do it. You’ll be happier.

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I had a loving and supportive spouse and family. My wife of 42 years has stuck by me through thick and thin. And, we are blessed with three wonderful daughters. Find someone who provides personal support to you in your career. It could be a spouse, a partner, or a friend. But find someone.

I had people at work who believed in me. Some were bosses and superiors, some were peers, and some were subordinates. Find those who believe in you and stick with them.

I’ve had some lucky breaks. Some was timing, some was from contacts, and some was just dumb luck. Speaking of contacts, develop them and stay connected. They can be of immense help if you ever have to “transition” jobs or companies.

I worked for great companies. The three major companies I worked for were powerhouses in their industries. Those fortunate enough to work for great companies will probably enjoy better compensation over time. But they will also be proud of where they work. Choose carefully if you can. Always look to work for the best and most successful companies possible.

I’ve had some hard lessons and tough breaks. Some were not my fault, but some certainly were. Fortunately, I learned from all them. As I look back, many of my hardest lessons were learned from being influenced by others when my gut told me it was the wrong direction or decision. If you are sure you are right, try to stick with it. It’s probably the right decision.

Being fired. Sounds funny, but it’s true. I used to tell people who worked for me that you really haven’t faced reality unless you’ve been fired at least once. It happened to me three times—once as the result of a corporate merger, once as a result of a corporate buy out, and once as the result of one of those “bad bosses” I described in my earlier article. It makes you look in the mirror, reassess, and get your butt in gear. I learned from all of them. In my case, the first time I got a much better job. The second time, I got an equal job. And the last time, I retired. Getting fired happens. Be ready. Keep developing your skills and stay connected in your field. Friends and relationships will make it hurt less and make it easier to land on your feet. Unless, of course, you’re ready to retire.

Developing lifelong friendships. I think I’ve said this before, but three of our closest friends (three couples) came from my first career job at Bullock’s Department Stores (now Macy’s) in Southern California. Best friends then and best friends now, 40 years later. Get to know your coworkers. Find ones you really like and stay connected.

Teaching others and watching them grow. Some of the people who worked for me have gone on to become corporate directors, vice presidents, successful entrepreneurs, and even company presidents. It’s not only rewarding to find good talent and help them grow, it’s amazing to see where some of them end up. Try to identify potential talent and never stop teaching.

Retiring with no regrets. I think that is a culmination of all of the career “thanks” I have talked about above.

I surely hope you will realize some of these experiences in your career and learn from all of them. Happy Thanksgiving!

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