Have you seen this TLC show? It features a soon-to-be-bride in search of her perfect wedding gown. Doesn’t every girl picture her dream wedding? It starts with the ideal dress.
I now understand Jennifer Baker’s research on divorce statistics. She reports that 50% percent of first marriages end in divorce. Want to try for a second or third try? That rate increases to 67% for the second, and third marriages approach the 75% failure rate.
Grooms-to-be are not immune from this dog-n-pony thinking. Want to ensure the security of your marriage with the perfect ring? Experts suggest that you put aside 2-months of your salary to buy that diamond. It doesn’t matter if you work part-time at the Piggy Wiggly or are a criminal defense attorney for a rapper, the amount you spend doesn’t change your marriage success rate.
Maybe if couples spent more time working on their relationship instead of worrying about holding the preeminent social event of the century, divorce rates would start to decline.
But I doubt it. We seem to have some pretty heavy-duty conditioning that makes us focus more on the tangibles surrounding important events than we do on what those events mean.
This is a lot like what happens at work. You finally get the promotion you’ve been dreaming about for years. You have finally MADE IT, the keys to the executive bathroom are in your hands. You shop for the perfect wardrobe, one that exudes the confidence and competence your role requires. You select the right accessories, maybe shoes and a handbag for women, a power-tie and an expensive watch for men. You anticipate walking into your first meeting as THE BOSS, mulling over the details in your mind about what you’re going to say, where you’re going to sit. You take great care in selecting new office furniture and artwork, all designed to show the world who you are and what you’ve accomplished.
The problem is, while you have all of the trappings of success, you likely bring with you all of the weaknesses you had before you were promoted. If you were a suck-up before your promotion, you will be a bigger suck-up afterward. If you had poor peer or employee relationships beforehand, the traits you showed back when you were a grunt will go with you. Your weaknesses don’t shrink; rather, they are intensified. If you wanted to be the boss so you could have more power, you are in the job for the wrong reason. The only right reason is to get results through your leadership, your ability to develop others along the way.
Whether you’re getting married or taking a promotion at work, caveat emptor: let the buyer beware. A dress, a 20-carat diamond, a packed reception hall has nothing to do with the success of your marriage. Choosing wisely, working hard, and caring deeply are the only things that increase your success rate. At work, getting that promotion without you actually giving of yourself and investing in others will not make you successful.
We carry our baggage with us wherever we go, even if, for a time, we find someone else to carry it for us.
What have you done to strengthen your personal and professional relationships today?