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It's Not Personal - It's Just Business

How many times have you been given that advice, or given it yourself? Perhaps you were devastated by a layoff, or a valued employee left you for a competitor, or any of the many other episodes of working life. We lose deals, we get passed over for promotions, there’s conflict, we have to restructure, we have a difficult conversation, we get feedback that is hard to process. In an attempt to console ourselves or someone else, or make the processing more pliable, we will often say, “Oh, well— personal; it’ just business.”But is that really true? Out of 168 hours in a week, most of us spend the bulk of our week at work, getting ready for work, traveling to work, and even bringing work home. My waking hours are much about work. I will work for more than 40 years of my life. How is it possible that I wouldn’t take it or make it personal?If a leader is sheerly concerned with protecting him or herself, not taking it personally makes more sense. But there are compelling reasons why the best strategy is to take our work and leadership personal.The people who are most satisfied and successful make their work personal. I imagine in your own life and work history, the people you know who most enjoy their live, and enjoy the most success, take their work personally. They are energized, inspired and productive, and they seem to be contagious. The persons who consider it ‘just a job” and have little job satisfaction have depersonalized their work, it’s a “paycheck”, and you don’t enjoy working with them very much. You up the chance of your own success and satisfaction when it’s personal.People who take it personally are more engaged. Team members who are actively engaged, focused, and attractive are taking it personally. They attract more business and loyal customers. They can “sell the product” because they are clearly bought in themselves. Not taking it personally can have some high costs.Ethics take a dive when we don’t take it personally. When we don’t make business personal, there is no sense of accountability and very little responsibility. We cab excuse financial irresponsibility, poor treatment of customers/clients, misuse of employees, fraud, and much more. When we depersonalize, it’s a short step to dehumanizing people, and business becomes dishonorable.Of course, we need proper boundaries. We can’t feel responsible for everything. We can’t be destroyed by mistakes and criticism, and we will be if we attach our sense of worth to our business. Your life is not defined by something that happens at work.But do take it personal. Don’t beat yourself up when something goes wrong. Be disappointed. See what you could have done differently. Learn from it. Care enough to make it different next time. This IS your life and your work and your energy. Take it personal.

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