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  • Writer's pictureMark Howley

Business is a Long Game

In business, the cream usually rises to the top. Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, but it rises.

I heard that saying early in my career, but I still charged ahead assuming success was a few years away. In many ways success was a few years away, but I always wanted the world to move faster and faster. Decisions were made too slowly, colleagues' worked too slowly, projects dragged on, etc. Although I am not promoting a surrender and wait strategy; I encourage hard work with an appreciation for basic business realities. It’s important that you don't let youthful impatience become your fatal flaw.

Businesses rely on people with experience. People who create value over the long haul as opposed to people who show value this month or this year. An example from my first job, I attended monthly group sales meetings to discuss leads, prospects and forecasts. It was a regular, sizable group that involved a lot of back and forth. After about five years, my boss waited for everyone to share thoughts and ideas, then turned to me and said, “what do you think Mark?” I swear to God, I almost fell over. I realized my time and commitment brought me value. I realized my days of cold calls and hard travel earned respect, and it felt great. I was even promoted a few months later. I advise people to assume that their job is a stepping stone – work hard and do the job well.

Remember you get reviewed for your current job, not the job you want.

In moments of frustration, avoid petty office conflicts, respect your colleagues (even if you don’t like them) and avoid rash decisions. Don’t send emails when you're pissed. Emails get saved, passed around then used against you. Instead, cool down and take a breath, a break, a ride in the car or even a night then tackle the problem when you're in a calmer state of mind.

The business world is old. The job of a determined younger professional is to work on the job at hand and prove your skills. If you push too hard for a promotion, then the boss thinks you lost sight of your job. This upsets you and you may start arguing too firmly with a superior, or your frustration is too much for your colleagues. In turn, everyone avoids you. On the sales side, an impatient salesperson may push so hard for a sale that the client shuts them down–perhaps forever!

Your career is a long journey, so avoid alienating people or self sabotage. When I see people make these mistakes, I advise them to slow down and play long to win.

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