Ask yourself an important question. When push comes to shove, which matters more to you - doing the right thing in your work or just keeping your job? Studies have found that when asked this question anonymously, most people concede that keeping their job is more important to them.
Ask yourself an important question. When push comes to shove, which
matters more to you - doing the right thing in your work or just keeping
your job? Studies have found that when asked this question anonymously,
most people concede that keeping their job is more important to
I make no moral judgments here, but for the sake of your career and your
own self-interest, I hope your answer was the altruistic one. The vast
majority of bosses can quickly surmise your true feelings on this
The best piece of advice I can give, based on my experience listening to
senior executives talk about their senior staff, is to take your job
seriously - but not so seriously that you are afraid to lose it.
One reason is that nearly all of us wear our basic attitudes on our
sleeves, especially when we feel vulnerable. The second reason: the more
intensely you want a job, the greater the odds are against your doing it
well. As the CEO of a major drug company told me, ’I want a
communications executive who is not afraid to confront me. I want him to
stop me when I’m about to do something stupid.’
Another dynamic CEO hired us to search for his new head of
’Of course, the person you find won’t be with us that long,’ he told
’The kind of person we want for this job will be bored in three or four
years.’ My suggestion: try to think of nearly everything in your career
as being rented. Enjoy your job and all its perks, but don’t become so
attached that you can’t bear to lose them.
The great thing about renting your job is that when the lease expires,
you’re free to go out and lease a brand new model - with more horsepower
and perhaps a convertible top. Not so long ago, I received a call from a
friend who had just returned from the meeting of a PR association.
’Bill,’ he asked, ’there was no one at that meeting from Microsoft, AOL,
Yahoo or Amazon.com. Why not?’
The answer was fairly obvious. The PR people at those kinds of companies
are too busy to attend association meetings. ’Well,’ he said, ’if I’ve
got time for a meeting like that, maybe I’m not busy enough!’ He was
right, of course. His lease was up on that job, and he knew it.
Becoming head of communications at a Fortune 500 company may look like
PR nirvana, but I urge you not to think of that or any other job as your
final destination until the day you retire. It’s just not good for
The most successful and dynamic people I encounter always have a plan
for themselves; they always have an eye out for the bigger, better model
they’re going to rent when the lease on their current situation runs
William Heyman is president and CEO of Heyman Associates, an executive
recruiting firm based in New York.