This article is part of a series. Learn more about it and access links to other articles in the series here.
My goal in this series is to talk about important concepts related to career fulfilment in a fun and unusual way. So today’s topic of “honesty” is a very important one indeed.
Now, the honesty of which I speak is multi-faceted. You have to be honest both in your actions and in your heart.
Honest action is about doing what’s right—even when no one is looking, even when it’s hard and even when it might seem trivial at the time.
Ethics and integrity are foundational components of career success. It’s about more than simply following the law and abiding by the rules. It’s about upholding a set of personal values and principles that demonstrate the best you have to offer as a person operating within a community (the workplace).
Without these things, you invariably will hit roadblocks professionally and personally. After all, when your colleagues can’t trust you, your ability to contribute meaningfully in the workplace all but evaporates.
When you’ve been in the professional world for a while, it can be easy to discount the importance of the little things. You may find yourself slowly devolving into “the grey area”—doing things that aren’t necessary wrong, but things that don’t truly reflect a strong, ethical core. Things like gossiping about others. Or accepting credit for something that wasn’t really yours to own. Or grabbing some extra supplies to restock your home office.
These things may not feel like much in the moment, but they add up over time. They slowly degrade your reputation and before long, you may begin to blur the lines even further.
Your choices matter, even when they seem insignificant. You have to have confidence that your actions—should they be publicized for all to see—are a genuine reflection of you at your best.
More importantly, you have to be able to look at yourself and be proud of what you see. That’s what allows you to go to bed at night and sleep soundly.
And this brings me to the other side of honesty—the kind that exists solely inside you: Self-honesty.
For me, career success is all about fulfillment (or, as I call it, nourishment)—participating in work that is meaningful in all the ways that are important to you.
The only way to attain such a lofty goal is to be honest with yourself. You have to be willing to have those hard, inner conversations that force you to acknowledge what’s working and what’s not. Beyond that, you have to be willing to take action to make improvements.
Honesty is the cornerstone upon which everything is built. If you’re unwilling or unable to be honest with yourself—about what you’re doing to contribute to the situation—you’ll never achieve this pinnacle of professional life.
As a career coach, all too often I see people who are unhappy at work and are quick to lay the blame at the feet of outside forces. They’re victims of circumstance. They’re treated badly. They’re not given the opportunities they deserve.
It’s a challenge to stop this kind of mindset and turn inward. It’s uncomfortable. For some, it’s shameful. But honest self-assessment is the only way to overcome these seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
You have more power than you think and, indeed, you deserve better. But that can only happen when you first honestly take ownership of your part and do whatever needs to be done to resolve the problems.
Whether we’re talking about honesty with yourself or honesty with others, it all comes down to the same thing—doing what’s right, even when no one is looking, even when it’s hard and even when it might seem trivial at the time.
In the workplace, we do this because it leads to better relationships and a great ability to contribute to the group’s objectives. In our hearts, we do this because it leads to personal satisfaction. When we live in alignment with our values, both outwardly and inwardly, we can live at peace.
And that is the foundation of career success.
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