2006's Career Dos and Don'ts
By Tom Musbach
People in the public eye made big professional strides and damaging missteps during 2006, and we can all learn from their examples. Think of Katie Couric inspiring others with her ascension to the anchor chair at CBS News, or Mel Gibson offending fans and associates with his anti-Semitic comments.
Some other high-profile incidents from 2006, highlighted below, offer simple insights and reminders of what to do and not do on the job.
DO: Push yourself to advanced skill levels.
Before 2006, France's Amelie Mauresmo
was known as the world's best pro female tennis player who never won a major tournament. That changed when she won this year's Australian Open and Wimbledon, crushing public doubts about her ability to win under pressure.
"Success in this world, especially in really difficult professions like sports and the arts, is based on two things: talent and persistence. Without the latter, the former won't do you any good," says Alexandra Levit, a career consultant and author of "They Don't Teach Corporate in College." "If you have a dream, always keep it in your mind's eye, and outline mini-goals to achieve that dream one step at a time."
DON'T: Compromise your ethical judgment.
Former Enron chief Jeffrey Skilling was sentenced in October to 24 years in prison after being convicted on 19 counts of defrauding investors.
"If you're lacking in the ethics department, you have no place doing business -- with anyone
," says Debra Davenport, a master professional mentor, licensed career counselor, and employment agent.
DO: Stick to your values.
Meredith Vieira stepped off the fast track as a "60 Minutes" correspondent 15 years ago to take care of her family, but her commitment did not derail her career. This year she became co-anchor of the top-rated "Today" show on NBC, a job which allows her to spend afternoons with her family.
"Work-life balance encompasses family values and self-care," says Davenport. "Sometimes we have to 'just say no' to work and feel confident in our decision to focus temporarily on our most important priorities. We're most productive when we're healthy and living in sync with our personal value system."
DON'T: Send inappropriate emails, IMs, or text messages to associates.
Former Rep. Mark Foley, a Republican from Florida, was forced to resign amid scandal caused by text messages he had sent to congressional pages.
"If you think that your employer wouldn't track something as silly as an instant message conversation, you're wrong," says Levit. "Always conduct yourself in a manner that reflects a mature, competent, and professional corporate persona."
DO: Focus on your passion, and use your strengths to make a difference.
Former Vice President Al Gore made a remarkable comeback this year as a spokesman for global warming's dangers with his engaging and powerful documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth."
"After he came to the realization that the climate issue was a topic close to his heart, he decided to do what he was the best gifted to do in that field," says Yves Lermusi, CEO of Checkster, a company that offers career and talent checkup tools. "In short he didn't decide to design the new solar system, or to run a green company, what he decided to do was to speak and present the issue to forum across the world. Find your passion or find what holds meaning for you, but then ask the question: 'Where can my strengths be best used to support that passion?'"
DON'T: Burn bridges when you leave your job.
Star Jones ended her tenure on ABC's "The View" with an abrupt on-air resignation that stunned her co-hosts and her fans.
"You've worked very hard to establish a strong reputation at work -- don't blow it in your last days," says Levit. "You never know when you're going to need these people again. Do an excellent job transitioning your projects and lead your boss and colleagues to believe that you're genuinely sad about leaving -- even if it's not true. This is one case where a white lie won't hurt anyone."