"I’m tough. I’m ambitious. I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, I’m OK with that."
On the contrary, ambitiousness doesn't need to be synonymous with bitchiness.
Despite paving the way as the original queen of girl power, Madonna raises an interesting misconception in this wildly famous and frequently tweeted quote of hers. Just because we're women living in a man's world in no way means that we aren't capable of achieving what our male counterparts are expected of. We don't have to be a workplace menace in order to be taken seriously, and we don't need to be bossy in order to become the boss.
As I navigate my way through this corporate hierarchy composed of Monday morning conference calls, late-night events, and business travel- I couldn't help but think about all the times throughout this past year where my morals were put to the test. Helping out my coworkers, being open & understanding of my colleagues, and having a grown-up reaction when things don't go my way may sound like workplace no brainers, but it's seeming evidently clear that not all of us are on the same page in our multiple translations of the Book of Morals.
Why does it have to be this way? Why can't a woman's ideas have the same merit as a man's? Though it is frustrating to have to work twice as hard to climb the ladder of success, don't compromise your integrity to get there. Though it can be discouraging having to produce far more superior work to even be placed in the same category as a mediocre job by a male counterpart, consider yourself lucky for having learned the importance of hard work followed by modesty.
Men may have an easier ticket to the top of the ladder, but let us never forget that we my friends, are the lucky ones. I mean let's be real here- could you imagine having to wear a suit every day of your life? And not to mention having to wear loafers as your preferred shoe of choice? No thank you!
In all seriousness though, finding success at work doesn't have to require your manicured claws to come out. Be friendly to your coworkers, be respectful towards to your bosses, and love yourself enough to know that you're far too fabulous to give yourself a dulling reputation of selfishness and double-crossing.
It's a weird feeling, going from being the top dog on your college campus to being back at the bottom of the totem pole in the office, but it's so very important to never lose sight of who you are and where you came from. I guess I may be one of the lucky ones, having grown up in the ultra-friendly Midwest where hard work and family values were pretty much engrained in me at birth, but some of my Midwestern charm may be of help to those who find it rather difficult to, how do they say - kill em' with kindness.
This week, try to focus on these tips to set yourself on the path to success without having to compromise your integrity to get there:
1. Work like your boss is always watching.
We all have what I like to call, the presentation version of ourselves. You know - the version in the staff meeting that is seemingly always on their A-game. Obviously it's important to us that we impress our bosses whenever they're around, but don't just put on a show when you're talking with a superior. Try to be that person all the time.
This week as you head into that meeting with your whole team, be on your best behavior as usual, but ask yourself who you are when you go back to your desk. Are you that same person you'd want your boss to see? Are you spending half your afternoon scrolling through your Facebook feed (okay, I may be the occasional culprit of this one), or are you procrastinating tackling those 15 unanswered emails in your inbox at 5PM? Think about the type of employee that you want to be, and then go be her.
It's kind of like that quote, "Dance like nobody's watching." Though that definitely rings true for my dance skills, try making your work the opposite. Work like everybody's watching, because not only will your quality of work significantly improve, but think about how fabulous you'll feel strutting out of the office doors come 5PM, with 0 unanswered emails holding you back?!
2. Be the coworker you'd want to be friends with.
I work remotely at a company with nearly 300 employees, and I've got a handful of coworkers that I've never actually met in person (crazy, right?!) that I talk to all day long, everyday of the week. We help each other with tedious tasks, we give each other feedback on our individual projects, and we occasionally vent to each other during stressful times, AKA- every lunch hour.
I've learned so much about working together as a team despite living across the country from my teammates. We don't ever feel the need to compete with one another because we value everybody's skills & input, and we've created an environment that uses camaraderie as a necessity for thriving in a high-pressure, results driven business.
Throughout this week, if you find that a coworker is struggling with something don't feel like you have to put on a tough exterior to seem superior to them. Offer to help them out, be kind & understanding of their concerns, and be supportive of their ideas. The nicer you are to your coworkers, the chances are they'll help you out in a time of need, too.
3. Be the leader that you'd want to have.
Though you might not have a team of direct reports, everyone knows that leaders aren't simply the person with the fancy title. Unfortunately, we are bound to have managers that are not our leaders, and leaders who are not our superiors. Show your coworkers what an ideal employee looks like. Lead by example by being calm & collected during the storm, by showing confidence when times get shaky, and by being the voice of positivity when it's Monday morning and the coffee machine is down. (Be the real MVP and take the office Starbucks order!)
At the end of it all, we are not judged by what our job title is or how much money we make. We are judged by who we are and how we treat those around us, and that is all God sees. It's so easy to get caught up in the hustle & bustle of the everyday grind, and before we know it- greed and selfishness become our new force of habit.
This week, let's all try to take a big step back and remember who we are and what's really important. Do you measure your success by what's on your pay stub? Do you feel most gratified by getting a lot of "good job's" and "way to go's" at the office? It's okay to want to do well at work, but it's much more important to do good.
And besides, narcissism has literally never been in style, so if anything - don't let your attitude clash with your outfit. Life's too short, so just be nice.