Career Advice

Today was one of those days where I do and say things that are the antithesis of good career advice.

So that means, of course I’m going to give some appropriate career advice.

DO. If your dog poops on the floor, clean it up. This is of course, a given. Everyone agrees with this, if you cause a problem, fix it. If you break something, fix it. If you can’t fix it, find someone who can. There’s not universal practice of this, but there’s pretty much universal agreement that it should be done.

DO. If there is dog poop on the floor, you cannot ignore it. In fact, clean it up. This is where things get hard. Who wants to clean up other people’s dog poop? Of course you can say “it’s not my job”, “it’s somebody else’s problem”, “I have my own poop to clean up”, “I don’t want to get stuck cleaning up poop all the time”. All true, and we’ve all said that. In the best of organizations, you might get recognized for cleaning up poop when you didn’t have to. In most organizations you’ll just be asked to muck out the barn. But here’s the thing. The more poop you clean, the more you learn about poop. The more experience you have, the better you are equipped to solve the next problem. I can’t tell you how much my career has benefitted from seeing something that wasn’t right and trying to fix it. Yes, I’ve had to clean up a lot of poop. But I’ve learned a lot in the process.

DO. Recognize when your dog is going to poop on the floor and handle it before it happens. This takes experience. See point #2. In good organizations, people will recognize that you can do this. In normal organizations, no one will care, but you’ll have to clean less poop.

DO. Recognize when other’s dogs are going to poop on the floor and handle it before it happens. This takes even more experience. See point #2. Sometimes, particularly in mentorship situations and with small out of the way rooms, you can let the other dog poop, but you should be there to keep the dog from going into a main room, and you should help clean it up. In great organizations you’ll be recognized as a mentor. In normal organizations, you might gain an appreciative colleague that will help you out when you’re dog sitting. Either way, there’s less poop to clean up, or you’ll learn more about poop.

There’s a debatable caveat here though. If you don’t have a trust relationship with the owner of the dog — you will not be liked. Especially if they think their dog only poops butterflies — you will not be liked. It’s even possible you’ll be blamed for causing the dog to poop. I don’t have any good answers for this. Sometimes you have to warn about things anyway. Sometimes maybe it’s just better to let it happen and hope that they don’t ignore the poop on the floor. See #2

DO NOT. Under no circumstance, should you proclaim, loudly or otherwise that THERE IS POOP ON THE FLOOR. And definitely do not say one word about HAVING TO BE THE ONE TO CLEAN IT UP. There’s great temptation in this. Particularly if you warned it was going to happen. I have failed at this far too many times. It’s getting better as I get older, but you’d think I’d learn one day. No one wants to hear about the poop and what you are doing with it.

The summary:

Do shit. Know your shit. Don’t talk shit.

That’s my blinding glimpse of the obvious advice for the day.