Ever been to a really good party?
There's an art to enjoying yourself at same. You look forward to going, find something special to bring (dont show up empty-handed!), make the rounds and meet people you don't know as well as say hi to your friends.
You manage the drinks so you can enjoy them but not be silly – or irresponsible – and of course, you contribute. Having brushed up on current events and sport you talk, play games, ask questions and just in general engage in having fun and relaxing.
And perhaps most important, you know when to leave. When the party's past its apex you know how to leave graciously and since you've been such a wonderful guest you'll be ininvited to other parties.
Your career is like a party in many ways.
Granted there may not be thumping bass-driven music in the background (or there may be: I don't know where you work) nor colored hats or cake (except on birthdays) but there are some similarities.
Work is a like a party
- Do you look forward to going to work? Listen, if you're not happy we know. Doesn't matter how good you think you are at masking and pretending, eight-ten hours a day is a long time to put up a front. We'll sense your unhappiness. But we can't make you happy: no one can. Only you control that. Re-examine your motivation to try and reclaim what used to make you happy about work.
- Wanna party at work? Then bring it. You don't go to a party to observe, you go to participate. To be invovled and immersed. To meet people, exchange indeas and have some fun discovering things. Your office is the same in that sense: it is not an observation deck. Look for projects, challenges, and other extra-job duty opportunities to get involved. People notice.
- Manage yourself. Most of you (not all) don't have to manage your drinking at work yet we still have to be sure we don't overindulge. In what you ask? Any non-professional behavior. An idle complaint is one thing: an on-going stream of bitching is overindulgence. Inappropriate jokes, stories, behavior? Just as unwelcome in the office as at your neighbor's fest. Over-sharing personal details? Same result. Manage what you say, do and share: you will be a better co-worker.
- Prepare yourself. Much like a good party at work you have to give to get. Brush up on your field, do your research on emerging trends and have some point of view on the big ticket items. Hell, have a point of view period. Just as we ignore the hangers-on who simply say “yeah!” and “right!” as they listen to others speak during festivities, at the office we want to hear your original voice too. Or we don't listen.
- Know when to fold 'em. 80% of life is in showing up they say. That must mean the other 20% is knowing when to leave. And in work there's a point at which things have peaked. Whether its ten months or ten years only you can say. But at some stage your enthusiasm has waned (see bullet one) and you're just not learning much anymore. Time to go. Straighten your party dress, be nice to all the other guests and get your exit plan in gear. The art of being a good guest is knowing when to leave. Work is the same.
While your job may not be a party, similarities exist. They don't last forever, and they shouldn't. We look forward to them, participate in them by immersing ourselves and then know when to leave.
And, like those really good parties you've attended in the past the good feelings of having been there and seeing others remains even after the details fade.
So be a good guest, get involved with others and make us glad we invited you. And enjoy yourself.