Taking Credit When None is Due

BusinessWoman-Home-ShockedDuring the debt ceiling negotiations, among the punked-style news: a Tea Party leader touted a “massive rally” on behalf of that group (at which less than 2 dozen people actually showed up). He claimed the majority of Americans supported his party’s position because “the phones were lit up and the government websites melted down,” (once President Obama urged us all to contact our representatives to urge them to not default on our global credit obligations).

In that televised interview, a fair-minded host aired video of the small, motley crew who made the “rally.” He then reported the statistics on who had contacted their representatives. Better than two-thirds were in fact largely furious that 61 Tea Party freshman congressmen imperiled our country’s sterling creditworthiness, setting off a $700 billion sell off in the stock market (where our 401K plans are now imperiled) over 5 days.

Credit where credit is due

I bet you aren’t surprised by these shenanigans, because you’ve been punked yourself, and paid for it.

Haven’t you worked with someone who wantonly took credit for your ideas or work product? When your boss showed management his PowerPoint with your points on it, did you stage an uprising? No, you sat through the meeting – and watched him enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Haven’t you lived with someone who was a slacker, and didn’t want to pay bills he owed? Did you just let the house bills go unpaid? And, let him ruin your credit? No, you paid the bills to preserve your credit score – and his, too.

Hasn’t a classmate who didn’t turn in her part of a group project held you hostage? Didn’t you wind up just taking whatever she got to you, while you did the majority of the project – and earned her the same A you deserved?

Credit doesn’t always go where it is due. You know that already. But, what can you do about it?

Your career depends on your ability to withstand these crises.  Perhaps the future of your company depends on that. Thus, you need a way to remain calm and confident in spite of the madness around you.

Being effective regardless of victory or defeat

You need to be effective at producing an income, controlling costs and doing work that moves your career forward: no matter who is attempting to defeat, default or otherwise deter you. How?

As a career and business coach, my recommendation is that you set up several options whenever that is feasible. For example, line up several job interviews. Don’t stop looking because you got one call back.

And, even when you are happy and hired: create something on the side that you find personally meaningful and at least potentially profitable. Or, make sure you keep up with your connections, so if you have to leave a company: you have people who care about you – not who hear from you only when you are out of work.

Avoid having all your eggs in one basket

In business, choose two vendors whenever you can chunk off 20% of the work. That leaves you with an option if one tries to hold your work hostage for more time or more money. Cross train your employees so no one person is the only person who knows how to do anything that is mission critical.

Having a set of alternatives: a plan B, C, D, E, F, G and so on, is the best insurance you can have in your career and business. It doesn’t make you disloyal, it’s just good policy.

In terms of the debt ceiling dealings, I learned sometimes the only alternative is watching cute kittens on YouTube.

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