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March 8, 2005

Excerpts: Naked Truth #14

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 12:57 AM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Naked Truth #14 If youre not over your head with a new job, you havent moved far enough.
I was clueless as to what an associate editor did. The art department would inform me that captions had to be exactly equal in length (for graphic balance) and I didnt know enough to say that was ridiculous, so I made them equal even if it took all night. The management would insist that we use the backlog of terrible manuscripts, so I rewrote and re-edited out-of-date interviews with directors of movies that had long since left theaters. I compensated for lack of knowledge by working around the clock. This was easy: I had no social life, or money to do much, and my waist-length hair and clogs, which had worked in Ithaca, were less successful in Manhattan. I got some well-meaning help from the male editors of Penthouse, most of whom I had worked for. It was the first example of something that happened over and over in my career: because I work hard and am nice to people, they help me out. I also learned that I thrive on public recognitionits embarrassing to admit it, but perhaps not as embarrassing as being motivated by money or competitive fervor; I like seeing my name in print.
People respond differently to the feeling of being over their heads with new responsibilities. My friend Carol panics that she will be fired, and the thought of being fired never crosses my mind (even when its about to happen). But we are similar in that we both grasp desperately at lifelines: working around the clock, calling on friends and vendors for advice and assistance, and being determined to beat the odds.
Ill make a gross gender generalization. Men dont like to admit they have lost control (e.g., asking for directions), so they enter new jobs with sublime self-confidence; their powers of denial are impressive. Women measure themselves against impossible standardsthe perfect resumeso often are in new jobs feeling unprepared. Dont worry about asking for directions. Whoever gave you the opportunity for a new job wants you to succeed, not fail. Be sure you know your bosss expectations for success. Ease up on your personal benchmarking for a short time, and go into learning mode for your honeymoon period. Maybe even read a business book.