2 Ways to Up your Generosity and Career Karma All At Once
We here at Mission Drift feel it is our duty to recognize and investigate when something has gone adrift, and Valentine’s Day certainly fits the bill.
Coming to symbolize unbridled commercialism and waves of high expectations and disappointment, Valentine’s Day regularly inspires protests and fiery editorials along with fabulous taglines such as my personal favorite, a “magnificently overhyped lovefest.”
Indeed, Valentine’s day has lost its way, according to the founders of Generosity Day. Since 2008, they have been repurposing February 14 into a day that calls for “radical generosity” and, new in 2013, a challenge to perform a million acts of simple kindness around the world. Their website is definitely worth exploring.
To inspire you to go forth and get generous this Thursday, and to extend its relevance to Mission Drift even further, I got an interesting idea to spin this in a professional, career and leadership-oriented light: here are 2 ways to be generous and up your career karma all at once. After all, career development and networking are all about generosity and paying it forward.
Try on one of these this Thursday, or inspire us and try both of them, and live to tell us all about it in the comments.
- Thank your career crush, you know, the one who intimidates you. Think of one person who you secretly, or not so secretly, wish was your mentor. This is the person whose talks you wouldn’t miss for anything in the world, whose tweets you follow religiously, and whose career you wish were yours. If you would never dream of contacting them because they are too famous, too busy, too smart… you’ve found precisely the person I am talking about. Ride the delirious wave of Generosity Day and tell this person why you think they are wonderful and what you have learned from them, whether it is by email, commenting on their blog, tweeting at them, or even calling. You are being generous with your compliments and gratitude, and you are also bravely identifying yourself as a fan and potential mentee. For bonus points, provide a teaser of how your own professional interests overlap, then see what happens. One time when I did this, and admittedly wrote a slightly naive and overly adulatory note, our brief exchange was actually disappointing – our personalities just didn’t sync up. But, it gave me the confidence to contact her a few months later to speak at an event I organized, and to my surprise, she accepted the invitation. Another time I did it indirectly by calling out and linking to their work on this here blog, and to my delight, they left a comment on my post! You never know what will come out of this connection, but you have planted a seed that can always grow into something more.
- Thank everyone today who impacts your job, whether they are “below” or “above” you in the organizational hierarchy. Everyone who works at your organization will likely fall under this description, and that is the point. In many organizations, the managers are the only ones who publicly thank others, and I have never quite understood this phenomenon. When you take a moment to thank everyone who does something that makes your job possible, or just a little easier or a little more enjoyable, you will feel more connected to your colleagues, more fulfilled by your work, and you will start to feel more like a leader, whether you have an official leadership title or not. Increased productivity and positivity follow closely behind expressions of genuine gratitude, and you want that good stuff associated with your reputation. In times like these, when 65% of Americans received zero workplace recognition in the prior year in a recent study, we must start enacting the practices of mutual appreciation and encouragement that we want to see in our workplaces. As HR and work-life balance savant Angenella Fleming recently tweeted, if it’s been over 24 hours since your last compliment, you are probably overdue. Bonus points for accepting the compliment graciously and sincerely, instead of brushing it off.
Special thanks to Good Food Jobs for spreading the message about Generosity Day in their newsletter, which in turn inspired this post. And thanks to Trista Harris, Rosetta Thurman, and the other good folks behind today’s Nonprofit Rockstar seminar (only #2 in a free monthly series that will continue throughout 2013!) that also inspired this post.