Hello, my friends, it’s an episode of Ask JP. The question is what is the one thing you wish you knew at an earlier point in your career? I love that question.
The accolades and the criticism just are not that important, and I wish I knew earlier. I spent way too much time early in my career, seeking approval from others, conforming, and maybe not being my true self. It’s easy to imagine why that happened.
I came from Oklahoma, and yes that means jeans, cowboy boots, etc. Things like that, very much a get the job done no matter how long it takes. I’d never been to a staff meeting in my life before I got here. In Washington, D.C. it was more suit and tie every day, watch the clock, mainly so you could get home within an hour and a half to two hours.
The political navigation of meetings and the nature of those could be really challenging, and it almost like was performance art. It can be very easy not to be your true self in that environment. Not that those things were bad, it was just challenging if you came from a different place. It’s almost like you were performing or you were suited up in your costume and doing a different job. Now things have come full circle, maybe naturally, I feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin and that’s what’s important.
I remember a couple years ago, we had a theme in the company, “more boots, less suits.” The whole idea was about being candid, open and being true to yourself. Explain those things and give those opportunities to your clients so you can serve them better.
The fact of matter is no one really cares. Their opinions don’t matter that much. Be liberated to do the things that you can do best, and that is why you’ll be successful for the companies that you work for or the organizations that you represent. It’s not the template that others have that’s important. It’s your unique template that brings value.
The realization of that has been certainly valuable to me later in my professional journey. I give this advice to some of my younger colleagues now. In terms of earlier point in my career, I wish that I really was intentional about being true and thoughtful and comfortable in my own skin. I wish I’d have known that earlier because it sure did pay dividends down the road. Hope that’s helpful, best wishes to you.