The gentleman should never underestimate the magnitude of a cheerful, happy disposition-especially when that attitude is displayed towards his children. Sure, discipline is a vital function required to raise children. However, the totality of child rearing must be equal parts discipline and equal parts love. He cannot levy seventy-five percent discipline and only twenty-five percent love. And that discipline cannot be driven by anger. That would be unwise. Listen, a gentleman cannot walk around with a scowl etched on a rigid face of granite all the time. Smile. Laugh. Sing. As a father, it is incumbent that he sets the appropriate tone and atmosphere for his household. Children need to witness him being more than that guy who trudges to and from work.
Tired. Irritable. Unhappy. Trust this: children are much more perceptive than you award credit, and they absorb the negatively charged climate that you have helped create. Stop. The time has arrived for you to glide through the door and welcome your family with a fresh, joyous attitude. They deserve it. You deserve it. Will it be like that every day? Probably not. Nevertheless, trust that your efforts will not give audience to blind eye. Your children will definitely notice, and they will love you even more. Doesn’t it feel fantastic?
A gentleman must always govern himself with honesty and accountability. To be clear, no one wants to feel the stinging, possible embarrassment of failure; especially when one’s failure is publicly consumed, digested, and analyzed. Even so, a man provides himself a personal disservice when truth is ignored or spun to reflect a more comfortable interpretation. Sometimes, a gentleman should be comfortable with discomfort. Sometimes, discomfort is the only thing that can foster adaptation and growth. And so, it is important to understand that it is okay to acknowledge and accept one’s failures. Absent shame, a gentleman should not be defined by a moment or undesirable result; rather he is molded by the individual paths along his journey. And the journey can be arduous.
He is forged by trials that challenge and shape his very character. Please understand, experiencing a failure in life is not equivalent to being a failure as a person. An intelligent gentleman must harness the strength and wisdom to comprehend the distinction. However, a man must recognize any pertinent lessons that are ready to be learned. Success should never be observed as an absolute certainty. Because, if a gentleman keeps living life, failures are more than likely to occur. It is important those failures are recognized, placed in its proper context within a gentleman’s life, and then utilized to achieve any future desired goals. Success is the total sum of our failures, meaningful self-reflection, stubborn change, and willingness to embrace the continued, dogged pursuit of your aspirations.
My young daughter is very sensitive, and not uncommon for her age, she can be very naive about the world. I find myself reminding her that people can sometimes be mean-spirited and unpleasant. Until this year, her education has been at private institutions. Now, as she has transitioned to third grade and the public school system, the new environment is bit different. Being a young girl of color, and given the demographics of our community, there was a certain level of unease as parent when we selected her school. Sure, the school was rated very high academically, but still a degree of trepidation remained regarding her adjustment and possible treatment by other children. As we all know, children can be especially cruel. Thus far the school year has been fine, well, aside from the ongoing battle of bringing homework and books home. Nevertheless, we did hit our first bump a few weeks ago.
Ava in enrolled in chess club, and two little boys mustered up the words to question her intelligence and explicitly state that she sucked. She handled the situation well and ignored their insults (she fire back at one of the boys with a “shut up”). However, one of the boys had been escalating his bad behavior, once even taking her undergarments in swim class and teasing her in front of other kids. My daughter is not the most organized, everything flies out of her book bag from water bottles to inhalers, so he spotted her undies and decided to be a prankster. Not cool. Not cool at all. It was time for an adult intervention. Now, I would like to offer a full disclaimer: I am not a licensed therapist of any kind. As a parent you draw upon the wisdom you have gathered throughout the years, and you attempt to raise your kid(s) the proper way. So, take the following advice with a grain of salt. Below are a few tips how we approach bullying and self-esteem in our household.
Granted, you cannot fully shield your child from an ill-natured world. Of course, you do your best to protect them from harm or things that do not align with your family’s core values. However, sooner or later, your child will experience a confrontation that may threaten their self-esteem, confidence, or overall well-being. And so early on, I have preached to both my children that they need to develop thick skin. What does that mean? Every action does not require a reaction. I make them aware that everyone is not going to be their friend. I make them aware that not everyone is kind. Everyone will not have their best interests at heart. And in the event that they are confronted by a bully, sometimes, it is best to just walk away if possible. I teach my kids to be aware of their surroundings at all times and never allow someone to aggressively invade their space. If a situation escalates to a physical confrontation, throwing hands should be a last resort if forced. If possible, seek out an adult. Sometimes utilizing one’s voice can be enough to back down an aggressor that feeds off fear. Bullies are generally outliers to accepted social standards; calling that out and standing up for oneself communicates that bully’s behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
However, words can still certainly sting. Fists can sting even more. As a parent it is your responsibility to build, reinforce, and protect their blossoming confidence before they even experience their first bout of torment. To stand tall against a bully, a child needs mental and emotional fortification. All of this is made possible through your active involvement in their lives. Trust, a parent can be present in the home, yet absent in their child’s life. These conversations happen during dinner, science fairs, baseball games, and chess tournaments. Being fully present in their lives is the foundation for the open communication and close relationship that is required.
It is always best for a parent to lead by example. It is crucial that a home has its own set of core values that the family follows. It is important that set of beliefs is instilled within your children. Especially in the case with my son, I always use myself as standard that he should model his behavior after. True, he has his own personality, but children are like sponges soaking up everything around them. Therefore, great care should be deployed to ensure their development is grounded in integrity, respect, and civility. You should be providing the template that they govern themselves after accordingly. It starts with you. Your child will be confident knowing they are backed by values championed by your household.
Educate, encourage, and empower your children. I reaffirm their intelligence. I reaffirm their pride in their physical characteristics. I reaffirm their self-worth by explaining they are loved and appreciated by family & friends. And I reaffirm their love for themselves. I praise good behavior and hard work. I teach them to give their absolutely best and never take shortcuts. And I teach them to lift up others in need absent ridicule or judgement.
Lastly, as a parent, you sometimes have to demonstrate a show of strength. What do I mean by show of strength? Your child needs to see that you have their back and be willing to defend them. I ALWAYS ask my daughter how her day was at school and if people were kind to her. Why? Because, if Dad ever becomes aware of any school shenanigans, action is going to be taken to remedy the situation. In the case outlined in the first paragraph, it required dual conversations (Mom & Dad) with the assistant principal (he was receptive and took immediate action) to address and resolve the matter. Generally, when I pick Ava up from chess club, I pull up curbside and she hops in the car. However, around this time, I made sure I escorted her from the school door to the vehicle. Subconsciously I wanted her to feel at ease and protected with Dad there. Following up on the situation, I routinely ask if any other problems had occurred. Thus far, that situation has been put to rest. I told Ava we would take care of the situation and we followed through with that promise. I believe that is extremely important as you build trust and credibility with your kid(s).
Again, I want to reiterate that I am not a licensed expert regarding today’s subject matter. If your child is experiencing bullying or low self-esteem, I recommend you seek professional assistance for your child. However, I hope you have been able to glean a bit of insight from my experiences. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of advice. I am sort of rambling off the top of my head. I would love the audience to chime in with some positive advice of your own. Please like, share with friends, and subscribe to this site if you enjoyed the read. Thank you in advance.
A wise gentleman understands that his reward and blessings in life are not entirely his own to selfishly possess. Rather, his reward and blessings are meant to fuel his purpose, and his purpose – in some form or another – should be enhancing and adding value to the lives of other people. To be sure, a gentleman’s objective in life should not be driven by a concerted focus to facilitate personal gain, especially at the costly expense of other individuals. The wise and prosperous gentleman understands that material wealth is meaningless if it is not utilized to cultivate prosperity with other members in society.
A gentleman’s service may arrive in the form of monetary value, educational and knowledge sharing, or granting valuable time with his presence. Truly, however, whatever a gentleman gives of himself to bless the life of another person is wholly his own decision. Surely the accomplished gentleman understands that his own blessings are most likely have been assisted by a helping hand – seen or unforeseen. Today, identify and recognize your own blessings and how they can positively impact the life of someone who could really reap the benefits. Someone is in need right now.
To be perfectly honest, in my humble opinion, the renaissance of men’s style was experiencing a slight decline perhaps 10-15 years ago. Mind you, not totally extinct, but the fickle interest from the mainstream had begun to dramatically wane. The COVID-19 pandemic granted no favors as white-collar workers migrated from the office to their homes. Business attire was certainly not at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Sure, menswear was still being discussed, but the conversation felt very much unserious. Popular men’s magazines would lead you to believe that wearing a dress like Russell Westbrook or tattered hobo wear like Kanye West was the evolution of men’s fashion. Absent were instructions related to proper business casual attire, how to coordinate color & pattern, or how to simply knot a necktie. Seriously, they would have you believe -no disrespect intended- that Pete Davidson was the next fashion icon.
Well, since no one has the courage to be brutally honest with you, it is all celebrity nonsense. Walk into your next job interview dressed like you just rolled out of bed; let me know how it works out for you. For those of us that live in the real world, celebrity fashion does not translate well to normal everyday lives. Do not be misled, a gentleman’s presentation still matters. In a normal world, it is still important to present oneself with a certain level of care and nuance. And as more and more of the population return to the office, appropriate work attire is becoming relevant again. Therefore, I wanted to revisit a company I discovered years ago – Wurkin Stiffs. Sometimes I can be a little obsessive compulsive, and floppy collars on my dress shirts were driving me insane.
Wurkin Stiffs was the solution to my dilemma. Collar stays are small inserts (either metal or plastic) that slide inside a hidden pocket underneath the shirt’s collar. What is the purpose of this accessory? Collar stays provide form and weight to the collar to keep it anchored and neatly in place. Wurkin Stiffs takes that function to another level – their collar stays are magnetic! The magnetic collar stay is inserted into the collar’s pocket as usual. An accompanying magnetic button is then placed underneath the shirt at the point of contact with the stay. Trust me, you will never know it is there. The magnets are very strong, so you need not worry of your collar flying out of place during the course of the day. A friend just reached out the other day because they were frustrated with their collar staying in place. Wurkin Stiffs immediately came to mind. If you are experiencing shirt collars that just won’t cooperate, I highly recommend you check Wurkin Stiffs out.
Trust and be assured, you possess an extraordinary power when you hold fast to your authentic self. Emboldened with unwavering confidence and a stubborn commitment to one’s core values; you will not acquiesce or conform to either popular trends or a status quo that stand in sharp contrast to your own principles. And while being exposed to a variety of opposing, external influences; you remain unbothered and unaffected because you are rooted unmistakably in your truth. Sometimes, you boldly swim against a powerful current of popular opinion. Now, such rebellion could be met with certain labels. And that is okay. It is what defines our uniqueness. The definition of self must be written by its author. And you are the author of your own book – ghost writers need not apply. To be your true self is what grants you strength, courage, and drive. Absent hesitation, regret, or embarrassment; your rebellion is your originality. Trust and be assured, your authenticity is unapologetically you and only you.
Do you despise the mere thought of working? Do you enjoy unemployment, but outside forces beckon you to peruse Indeed? Do you want it to seem as if you are searching, but secretly you want to botch the next interview? Well friend you are in the right place. I kid, I kid. Today, I am here to assist you in your job hunt. And today, I want to make sure you are not committing any terrible offenses in your job interview. To be sure, interviewing for a job can be an extremely stressful experience. It is an audition of sorts for meaningful employment. The stakes are indeed high, and there lies a myriad of ways a candidate can effectively blow an interview. In this post, I won’t painstakingly state the blatantly obvious. The obvious? Well, for starters, showing up with Jack Daniel’s seeping out of your pores, slurring your speech, and stumbling about the premises.
A word to the wise: Calm your nerves with an adult beverage of choice AFTER your interview. Trust me, you will thank me later. No, today I offer advice regarding unforced errors you may be committing as seek your dream job. Well, perhaps, not exactly your dream job. Regardless, you don’t want foolish mistakes standing between you and a coveted paycheck. Now, this is just the opinion of a man that has interviewed hundreds of job seekers. Nevertheless, it is my sincere hope that you are able glean some wisdom from the advice below.
As a potential employee interviewing for a job, it is simply idiotic to express or voice prejudice toward individuals based on characteristics such as race, gender, age, or sexual orientation. Trust me – it occurs. Strong opinions regarding your previous employer outsourcing your job offshore to individuals with limited English – keep it to yourself. If working with the opposite sex elicits acrimonious feelings deep within your soul – keep that under wraps. Proudly waving the flag, representing your generation of workers – don’t deride others as you bathe in your own greatness. In a job interview, you must not assume the interviewer(s) belong to your tribe. And to be honest, if you belong to any of the aforementioned tribes, you might want to practice some self-examination and refine your core values.
As a supervisor that has interviewed hundreds of job candidates, I prefer my time not totally wasted. So, showing up to an interview totally unprepared is not acceptable. To be perfectly clear, I am not referring to any form of anxiety that may intrude and potentially derail your interview. A case of the nerves is understandable, and nervousness may present as being unprepared. However, a seasoned interviewer should be able to discern the difference. What does an unprepared candidate look like? An unprepared candidate cannot recite their work history clearly, they do not understand the basic requirements & responsibilities of the desired position, and they display a lack of genuine curiosity regarding the company or job itself – outside of salary and paid time off. Do the homework. Granted, you don’t need to recite the full history of the company itself. However, ensure that you adequately educate yourself regarding the company’s mission and vision, as well as the core responsibilities of the position itself.
No company wants to hire a malcontent. Sure, a candidate may be able to pull a fast one and mask their discontentment from the hiring manager(s). Nevertheless, there are individuals that are terrible poker players and show their hand straightaway in the interview. They launch headfirst into the interview on fire. Unabashed and unfiltered; they proceed to complain, name, shame, and blame. Oh yes. They name-drop previous or current management figures they despise. They blame and shame colleagues they hate. And they complain about company culture & policy whilst eschewing accountability and growth. Fantastic. Seriously, with those factors working in your favor, who wouldn’t want to hire you? The company you are aspiring to work for – that’s who.
So, we have established that a bad attitude toward previous or current employment will hinder a job opportunity. Now, let us talk about how a bad attitude directed at the hiring manager(s) is also a foolish, if not bold approach to a job interview. Yes indeed, a sure way to tank an interview is to stroll into a room with a cantankerous, condescending, or arrogant demeanor. Being the subject matter expert that you proclaim; you talk over the interviewer, force answers before a question is even finished, and even project an unpleasant attitude if the series of questions or details about the job annoy you. You might as well fold your arms, kick your feet up on the table, and beckon the hiring manager(s) to bow before your greatness. No worries superstar – you won’t receive the opportunity again.
If you are interviewing for a job, it is best to remember that honesty is the best policy. Misrepresenting one’s qualifications and work history will turn a first impression into a last impression. Now, you may be wondering how an interviewer would be able to know a candidate is being dishonest. Well, an experienced interviewer will be able to see through the facade of fanciful lip-service and grandiose declarations. An experienced interviewer should be able to discern a verbal hustle by deploying probing and follow-up questions to a candidate’s previous answers. It is no different than spotting any liar that will dance around an issue and never answer a question directly. You may believe you are being sly, but do not be surprised if that job offer eludes you. Sure, there are individuals that may be able to hustle their way to a level of success. However, you are only performing a disservice to your professional growth and development. And sooner than probably later, you will have to account for your deeds.
I have been exceedingly blessed with just over twenty-one years of work experience; nineteen years employed by the same company. I am truly thankful and gracious to experience such longevity. I have held a number of roles at various levels within the organization, and I have observed the varying degrees of success and failure of other colleagues. At this point, I am never surprised to see a colleague blame their lack of success on other individuals or the company itself. Now, I am not carelessly blind to the existence of professional barriers based on racial, gender, age, and sexual orientation discrimination. That is a topic for another conversation.
And while the aforementioned offenses could surely send a career down in flames; let us recognize other brazen violations that will not only severely hinder one’s career; it could get you terminated, sued, or perhaps even worse – sent to jail. Offenses such as sexual harassment, physical assault, theft, or NSFW material in the office will surely tank anyone aspiring an ascent up the corporate ladder. Today, however, I want to highlight 5 behaviors that aren’t so blatant. Well, maybe they are blatant. Still, you would be surprised that some individuals don’t connect these toxic traits to a sputtering or unfulfilling career.
5 Office Habits That Are Sabotaging Your Career
Gossiping – The professional environment should remain as such – professional. Yet many individuals behave as if they are still in grade school. To be sure, word does indeed travel fast – as does the identity of the individual spreading said word. Disseminating misinformation and/or disinformation is a good indicator that the person is not particularly trustworthy. Advancing your career could prove to be difficult if you develop a reputation for spreading inaccurate information, blatantly false information, or information that should otherwise be kept confidential. Leadership will be hard pressed to have an individual amongst the ranks that consistently leaks and spreads information to the detriment of the company.
Complaining – Straight up and to the point: No one wants to work with a malcontent. True indeed, misery loves company. However, misery needs to understand that the rest of us can do without your negativity and toxic attitude. Understand that your incessant complaining is draining and exhausting. Offering opposition absent any meaningful propositions is never constructive and adds zero value to the work environment. The malcontent only exceeds at dampening spirits, derailing productivity, and worse yet – spreading their toxicity to other employees. If presented with the opportunity, a company would be most inclined to remove this workplace cancer from the team.
Average at Best – A professional should never be too comfortable with being comfortable. True, one can feel fully satisfied with their current work situation with absolutely no desire for further advancement. And that is fair. However, performing the bare minimum just to skate by could very well jeopardize performance reviews and tag you as exceedingly expendable. I am not advocating that one work themselves into an early grave for an ungrateful employer. However, willful acceptance of mediocrity is not doing your development any favors – professionally or even personally.
The Office Villain – Closely related to the complainer; but instead of consistently sharing their disdain solely towards the company, venom is also unleased upon fellow colleagues. Communication consists of belittling and disparaging others. Work ethic is strictly self-serving without any regard for making the team better. The office villain is obnoxious, rude, inconsiderate, and quick to throw anyone under the bus to get ahead or avoid responsibility. This person never crossed a bridge they didn’t like to torch. In the workplace, your reputation is your brand. So, don’t expect anyone to invest in you if the product is unprincipled, cantankerous, and trash.
Bad Work Performance – This example is self-explanatory. Woefully devoid of self-awareness, you are unabashedly terrible in your role. Trust, at any moment, your belongings could be in a cardboard box. Yet, you think your dreadful work performance and poor work ethic should be handsomely rewarded during performance review time. The profound lack of ownership regarding your shortcomings and errors is breathtaking. You display little curiosity in learning and growing within your professional craft. If you are adding little to no value (maybe even adding negative value) to a company; understand that your career stagnation is wholly your own doing.
Note: There are exceptions to every rule, and some individuals you may see succeeding embody the traits above. Nevertheless, that is not an excuse for you to exhibit the same behaviors. Ultimately, the goal is to be the best version of yourself and live your best life.
I must humbly submit that I am fraught with trepidation writing this post. Unfortunately, I don’t write much nowadays because the daily grind of life has allowed time to escape more readily than I desire. However, events of the past few months have exposed me to a predictable inevitability; kindling deep reflection that I want dutifully documented. Therefore, if you would please, bear with me because I am perhaps rusty with this blogging thing. Allow me to proceed straight away to the point – my beautiful baby girl is blossoming into a little young lady. And through this maturation, I have been overwhelmed with varying emotions. Nostalgia, sadness, joy, and pride all spiral within me, lessening and magnifying in strength depending upon the day’s mood.
Admittedly, during those seemingly perpetual days of torturous sleep deprivation, as I clung desperately to any modicum of available sleep, a friend noted that I would one day miss those days. And defiantly, I stubbornly disagreed with the absurdity. Well, the time as begrudgingly arrived. Trust me, I certainly do not long for the days of erratic and scant sleep. Nevertheless, I do yearn for those early years when that intimate connection between father and daughter was being cultivated. Now, as she grows older and establishes more independence, her dependence on me is seemingly fading. Yes – I am being overly dramatic. At only 8 years of age, she is still greatly dependent on me for a host of things. And she will be for the foreseeable future. However, as a parent of a growing child, emotion and logic sometimes don’t cooperatively coincide. So, what has me thinking and caught up in my feelings nowadays? I felt compelled to connect again with my audience and share a few thoughts below.
Long gone are the days of putting my daughter to sleep with Kenny G softly playing in background. And gone are the days of making a small pallet on the floor next to her crib as I sleep trained and took her to potty at night. Those nights have been replaced with her escaping to our bed after a nightmare whilst elbowing and kicking me and my wife because she is a trained mixed martial arts sleeper.
Harry the Bunny. Shushybye Baby. The Dance Time Boys. Musti. This was the era of Baby First – an educational television channel geared towards the development of babies and toddlers. Disney Junior introduced Doc McStuffins, Octonauts, and Mickey’s Playhouse and PJ Masks. Now Bluey and Firebuds are in constant rotation. I swear I watched these programs more than I watched regular adult programming. Theme music danced in my head throughout my workday. It was a great escape from the tiring grind of adult life. Ava would cuddle underneath my arm and place her tiny hand on my forearm. As she has grown older, we don’t share those moments that often anymore. However, she surprised me the other day. She plopped down on the couch beside me and said, “Can I come chill with you dad?” Chill? She’s in elementary school now, so she is picking up new lingo. She snuggled up next to my shoulder. I smiled inside.
First, I would carry her into daycare. That soon progressed to me guiding her little staggering steps into school – sometimes still carrying her due to inclement weather conditions or simply trying to save time as I was pressed to get to work. Now, we are all the way to the point of her walking to the school bus stop. Initially, I walked her to the school bus stop, but I was hastily demoted in favor of her walking with her friends. As the weather has shifted to brisk mornings, she now prefers the warmth of my SUV until the bus arrives. Thankfully, the bus stop is literally one block over from our house. I guess I’ll wait until spring to get demoted again in favor of the girls next door.
And speaking of demotions, I fondly recall a teacher complimenting the preparation and content of Ava’s lunches. I took great pride making her lunch the night before school day. However, I was once again wantonly stripped of my responsibilities as I was now rudely replaced by elementary school…cafeteria food? I felt like Craig being fired on his day off. The absolute, unmitigated, audacious nerve of it all! What in the tater tot casserole and non-descript pizza on an aluminum baking sheet is going on here? Nevertheless, some of my services have been retained, as I have been commissioned to pack complementary snacks for the princess. Boy have I sunk low.
I have not even touched the topic of boys. Now, she has not openly admitted to an attraction to the opposite sex, but I was treated to an extended period of incessant chatter about her “best friend” – whom happened to be a boy – at school. Every. Single. Day. And the day he was a little mean to her – she was crushed. Teaching moment. In the distant future, I now understand I need to recruit a close confidant to have a conversation with any young men that may enter her life – we’re talking a Will Smith/Martin Lawrence Bad Boys’ style conversation. Just joking, just joking – no, not really.
Now, I completely understand all of this sounds over-the-top. However, whether I am summoning Small Potatoes (a cartoon short that used to air on Disney Junior) on my smart phone to distract and comfort her in the ER, pulling a splinter from a tiny foot, purchasing her favorite character’s Halloween costume, or cooking one of her favorite dinners (chicken& waffles); I care very deeply about being a fully present father. And dwelling within my scattered thoughts is the unreasonable fear that one day I will no longer be needed. I’m woefully obsolete. It is that intense tug-of-war between emotion and logic. Emotion dictates a converse relationship between a child growing older and my own parental worth. As her age increases, my worth and value decline. Logic then intervenes and affirms that as a parent, as a father; I will always have purpose and presence in my children’s lives. I need to cope and understand that change is indeed inevitable. Nonetheless, those changes don’t detract from my role and responsibility. I need to remind myself every now and again. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go fix my little girl some hot tea with lemon & honey to assuage a nagging cough.
A smart professional will never underestimate the value of skills that do not require an advanced degree – availability, accountability, and reliability. Trust, these key attributes only demand effort, determination, and integrity. It is the steadfast commitment to being a dependable and trusted source; fully present in the moment with a personal charge of delivering the best version of yourself.
“Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to the error that counts.”
Unfortunate and poor behavior notwithstanding, I vehemently reject the tired narrative that the actions of one individual is an overreaching indictment and reflection of an entire race. The practice of projecting either pronounced or passive prejudices on a people is profoundly problematic. And the recital of said narrative offers suspect validity to an aging stereotype with tacit approval. Racism does not require reason nor request. To be sure, an individual must be held accountable for egregious actions and conduct. However, such accountability should be administered with wisdom and love. Certainly, there must be a level of contrition and willingness to properly rectify the situation by the offending party. Nevertheless, it is never wise to stand in self-righteous judgment and indignation with unsteady footing. Because, if changed behavior is the expectation, constructive counsel is more valuable than destructive opinion.
It would be an immense understatement if I said last year was painfully challenging. Consumed with anxiety and stress; personal victories were attained by simply making it through a day with a shred of sanity intact. True to form, life is predictably unpredictable, and sometimes leaning heavily into faith is the only recourse – even when said faith is terribly shaken. Nevertheless, I am grateful for the quality of life that has been afforded to me through grace and mercy. I am exceedingly thankful that my family has been able to endure the pandemic absent severe sickness or death.
Now, it would be disingenuous to suggest that faith alone solved all my tribulations. And for all intents and purposes, I am a practical man that favors tangible and actionable solutions. Over the course of the year, I was able to find sanctuary within a myriad of activities that were enjoyable. And as the year winded down, the holiday season presented an unexpected opportunity for a constructive distraction to assuage the discomfort in my spirit and mind.
That distraction arrived in the form of wrapping Christmas gifts. Due to my slight habit of being obsessive compulsive, I discovered myself diving into YouTube tutorials featuring the art of gift wrapping. Instagram and Pinterest became familiar destinations to extract visual inspiration. Big box locations such as Michaels and Target stocked the necessary supplies to transform imagination into reality. If but for brief moments of solitude, I was able to glean a piece of happiness through the coordination of design, color, and material. It was especially satisfying to present a beautiful array of gifts under the tree to my children. One of the greatest joys of fatherhood is being able to provide happiness to your children. So, whenever or wherever you might discover some unexpected joy in life; ensure that you grant the requisite time to absorb and appreciate every second of it.
Well, the NBA season is underway, and it is one of the more anticipated seasons in recent memory. There are a myriad of competitive head-to-head matchups that have fans salivating. This season is also filled with some interesting controversies and headlines that exploded throughout the world of sports before the season even began. One of those controversies involve Ben Simmons and his tumultuous relationship with the Philadelphia 76ers. Following a dreadful playoff performance that witnessed him literally avoid touching the basketball, passing up open shots, and passing immediately to teammates if he did get his fingertips on the ball.
Simmons lost confidence in his shot and was petrified of going to the free throw line. Already a bad free throw shooter at 61%, that average plummeted to a woeful 34% during the playoffs. The Philadelphia fanbase and media were merciless. To be honest, Simmons was shook mentally, and I seriously felt remorse for the guy. I am old enough to remember a similar mental block occur with former NBA star Nick Anderson. However, as bad as the press have been, Simmons has exhibited a glaring lack of accountability and self-awareness. Simmons is fortunate. He is still a superstar with a ton of talent, so he can still be an asset to any team seeking a championship. Nevertheless, the average employee works in the real world absent multimillion dollar contracts, agents, and basketball talent to leverage demands. Exhibiting behavior like Ben Simmons just may get you terminated. Here are some behaviors one should definitely avoid when working in the office.
Bad Work Performance – If you are gainfully employed by a company, there is a logical expectation that you perform your job suitably enough to receive compensation. Now, whether or not those wages are fair & competitive is subject matter for another blog post. Nevertheless, if you are an employee with suspect work ethic and inadequate work performance, a company can reserve the authority to separate you from the business. Unlike Ben Simmons, it is highly doubtful you will be afforded the same opportunity to dial in bad performance after bad performance without meaning repercussions. People also have a self-inflated sense of their worth. Sure, one should always have confidence in oneself. However, you can’t have Craig Ehlo skills with a Michael Jordan attitude.
Lack of Growth & Development – Now, if bad work performance is one issue, lack of self-awareness is certainly another problem. If you are performing poorly at work, management should be providing feedback regarding expectations and suggestions for personal improvement. An ambivalent or otherwise adversarial attitude is not in your best interests. Failing to improve and better yourself will only lead to career stagnation. You don’t want to be viewed as expendable. You must be able to step back and identify your weaknesses if you wan to become a better version of yourself.
No Showing At Work – Unless your company has a union that has strategically planned a walkout or strike, it is in your best interest to show up to work. Failing to show up to work for a certain number of days can be viewed as job abandonment. Unlike Simmons, the average worker cannot skip training camp and the preseason. It is either you show up to work or find other means to make a living.
Alienating Coworkers – It is not unusual for an employee to have some sort of beef with management. However, if you have bad relationships with your coworkers, you could possibly be contributing to a toxic environment. No one wants to work with a malcontent. If you are a disruption to the mission, vision, and team; management will sooner sever all ties with you for the good of the team. This is known as addition by subtraction – removing a cancer from the team in order to move in a positive, constructive direction.
Insubordination and Disrespectful Behavior – To be sure, there is a chain of command in the workplace. And unless you are at the top of that chain, an employee has a leader to whom they report. Noncompliance with a directive from leadership is a surefire way to earn a pink slip. Disrespecting your leadership is a surefire way to earn a pink slip.
I understand that some of these points may not be popular, but this needs to be read by someone. Because, as social media and celebrity figures continue to influence and empower, the every day employee may believe they can operate like said celebrity. That is simply not the case in the real world. And as Dave Chappelle alluded to in his latest Netflix special, but in a different context, Twitter is not a real place. And thinking you can move like the famous or people who are social media famous might get you fired. My suggestion: Go to work and be fully present. Practice some self-reflection and humility as you become the best version of yourself. Ensure that you build meaningful relationships and respect leadership. And if the fit is not right for you; seek other opportunities in a professional manner.
I am absolutely confidant, if you are an individual with a management position, you should be all too familiar with resolving conflicts involving direct reports. Sometimes, management receives a bad reputation. We are perceived as aloof, power-hungry individuals that are woefully disengaged from their staff. We wield our perceived power to make ourselves feel better and we have no clue about the work being performed around us. Honestly, some of us are just regular folk, straddling a fine line between company policy and managing a motley crew of employee personalities and behaviors. I have advanced my career throughout the years, starting as a laboratory assistant and achieving a position in lower tier management as a supervisor. I know a thing or two because I have seen a thing or two.
And while management may not be viewed positively by many, here is a newsflash, sometimes the staff can be pretty problematic and toxic too. As a leader, managing the core work is sometimes the easiest aspect of the job. Things become complicated when a challenging employee personality, bad behavior, and company rules collide. It is enough to drive a manager or supervisor insane. And if you are new to management, sometimes you have to learn to navigate this world through live-fire. Here, I wanted to share what I have learned throughout the years as a supervisor. It is not an exhaustive list, and if you are a manager reading this, please share some of your views that I may have missed. It is my hope that the following insight is helpful to someone.
This first piece of advice cannot be overstated; it is absolutely paramount that a manager remain calm and refrain from fervent displays of agitation or direct anger towards a colleague. No doubt, depending on the specific circumstances, adhering to this task can be quite daunting. Nevertheless, given your position of authority, your standard of professional behavior is definitely and expectedly higher. In my particular case, speaking bluntly, I cannot afford outward displays of indignant belligerence as a black man – it’s not a good look. And that may sound cynical, but historical stereotypes of black men still exist today, therefore I am very cognizant of managing my temperament. A manager must remain measured and calm in the presence of direct reports.
If you are delivering one-on-one coaching or disciplinary action, another colleague in leadership accompanying you in the room is highly recommended. Your immediate peer in leadership should be impartial and removed from the specific situation; acting only as a witness and perhaps as a buffer between the acting manager and colleague should the atmosphere becomes inflamed. If you feel your impending engagement has the potential of becoming hostile, recruiting assistance from your director/manager or even human resources may also be necessary.
If the engagement becomes heated and not conducive to an actionable, constructive outcome; never be afraid to table the conversation and revisit the matter at another time.
Maintaining a clear and fair thought process, it is important for you manage the situation and behavior – not the colleague. Hold on, wait, that does not make sense if you are “managing” colleagues. What I am saying is this: You must be separate the colleague from the issue that requires resolution; only acts or behavior should be addressed. It is wise to omit any personal opinions or views about said colleague. You should stick to the facts and only what can be proven. Clear any negative thoughts you may feel about the colleague and stick to the issue. Do not shift or allow the colleague to shift the conversation away from the issue at hand. Once you allow the conversation to stray from the subject being discussed, you will lose sight of the resolution that needs to be determined.
A manager should never rush into conflict unprepared and off the cuff. You should take a moment to gather all pertinent facts before you begin the process of conflict resolution. If a colleague engages you for an immediate sit-down, your primary function is to listen and observe. This should be a part of your fact-gathering process. Thank the colleague for bringing the matter to your attention and convey that you will further investigate the incident.
Document, document, document. It is important to keep detailed records of events and incidents. If you are meeting one-on-one, a summary of the meeting should be communicated to all involved parties. All details of the event in question should be recorded and kept on file.
It would be wise to lean heavily into your company’s mission and core values to help guide you through managing a given situation. This harkens back to my previous advice of managing the situation and not the colleague. Your role as a manager or supervisor is to ensure that company policy is being recognized and followed. Your personal views are not your own. You are a representative of the company whose responsibility is to remind, enforce, and ensure company culture is being observed and practiced. You must provide clear and concise feedback that align with the company mission and vision. Also remember, you are in a position of authority, so consequences should be clearly conveyed.
To be sure, managers or supervisors are not robots. We have emotions too. We have personal opinions. It is vital that we express those feelings regarding any particular circumstance. However, this expression is best suited for an audience outside of your employment. It’s best to save your raw, unfiltered observations for a spouse or significant other within the confines of your own home. Never vent or bad-mouth a subordinate to another subordinate. Never disclose personal, confidential information about a subordinate or anyone else. Do not broadcast grievances on social media. Do not utilize company technology such as e-mail or messaging to disparage colleagues.
To be absolutely clear, a hardworking gentleman understands the meaning and value of his tireless labor. And to be absolutely sure, the reality of fatherhood only heightens said understanding. Trust, this gentleman maintains a deep, fundamental comprehension of provision and the significance of being a contributor. And so, when seasons of life are absent peace or joy – perhaps both; it is not uncommon for him to lean heavily into his work; a passionate attempt to seek refuge and fulfillment by claiming, reasserting his own value to himself. Work is transformed into an instrument that exerts authority over one’s mental and emotional well-being. It is a blunt tool utilized to manage anxiety, stress, insecurity, and pain. He accepts the incredible burden of arduous work to unburden himself of heavier burdens – both emotional and mental. However, whatever accomplishments that are attained, the satisfaction is never truly satisfying. Frantic attempts for relief only lead deeper into work. The wise gentleman must conclude that work does not inherently grant him value. Rather, it is he that affords value to his work, to his friends, to his family, and to himself. So, if no one tells you today (and demonstrate through their actions); I am here to convey on behalf of countless gentlemen such as yourself; you are recognized, appreciated, respected, and loved.