Simple Rules to Live By

Under-Promise, Over-Deliver. Never commit to something you cannot deliver. When negotiating a deadline, be 100% confident that you can exceed it. Deliver before your deadline. Then do more than expected. Include value-added touches, such as an executive summary, talking points, implementation plan or slick packaging.

Meet Every Deadline. Late work is career suicide. Remember this — there are 24 hours in a day and seven days a week, and someone else may be able to help you. If there is no possible way you can meet a deadline, renegotiate it as soon as you know it might be late.

Ask For Help. It is a sign of strength, not weakness. Whatever your current task, someone else already has done a similar project and has learned from the inevitable mistakes and wrong approaches. Find these people so they can help you avoid pitfalls and improve your project. Look outside your unit and service — the answer may reside in a neighbor who works for another office, unit or agency, or in the private sector.

Search For Good Opportunities. Throughout your career, you will be assigned lots of special projects, collateral duties and odd jobs. Volunteer for collateral assignments where you can excel or from which you can grow and learn. Let your supervisors know you are interested in special projects that will help you grow.

Choose Your Battles Wisely. Nothing is more futile than fighting for a lost cause. If you choose to fight for something, make it worth your effort. Don’t choose insignificant battles.

Choose Your Enemies Wisely. Inevitably we all elect to make someone our enemy, either by taking an opposing position on an issue or for personal reasons. Either way, make sure you are willing to have that person as an enemy — and be ready to defend yourself next time you face off, which will likely be on your enemy’s turf and timeframe.

If It’s Broken, Fix It So It Won’t Break Again. When you find something broken, whether it’s a process, organization or piece of equipment, find out why it broke and fix it so it won’t break again. Take the opportunity to dissect the process and find ways to improve it. Leave it in the best condition you can.

Aim As High As You Can. Even if you don’t hit your target, you’ll still be higher than most everyone else.

Know Your Strengths. Exploit them. Choose assignments where you will excel. Design your workplace to exploit your strengths.

Know Your Weaknesses. Improve them through classes, reading, special assignments and challenges.

When Defeat Is Inevitable, Cut Your Losses And Perform Damage Control. You can’t win them all.

In Cases Of Ethical Or Difficult Decisions, Answer These Questions: Would I want my Mom and Dad to know what I did? What will I say to millions of viewers (and my next-door neighbor) when Mike Wallace questions me on 60 Minutes? Is this how I want to spend my tax dollars?

Take Care Of Your People. As a supervisor, you are successful when your most important job is writing awards and recommendations for your crew. Your job is to ensure that your subordinates excel and that they have whatever money, materials, time, training and direction is needed to do their jobs. If you do this, you’ll spend your time preparing awards and writing recommendations for them.

Make Your Bosses’ Jobs Easy. Give them what they want before they know what it is. Unwanted surprises are bad. Pass along bad news as soon as possible. If your bosses can take leave anytime they want, you’re succeeding.

Establish Personal Goals And Priorities. Set daily, weekly, annual, tour, career and life goals. Then establish daily priorities that will help you meet them. Periodically ask yourself, “What is the most important thing that I can do right now?”

Establish A Personal Support System.
We all need emotional support — a safe place to blow off steam and be heard. Keep your personal life healthy, including spouse, children, friends and family. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help early. Just think how much easier marriage counseling is than divorce proceedings. Good health, proper diet and routine exercise are requirements to be effective at work.

Sit Back And Ponder. Use retrospection and introspection liberally and regularly. Take time to know your values, goals and mission. Then be sure your work is congruent with your beliefs.

Keep Learning And Growing. Or, as some say, “Sharpen you saw.”

Trust Your Intuition. It’s probably your most underused talent. When used, it will be your best sounding board and early warning system.

Have Fun. If you’re not having fun, something’s wrong. Figure out why and correct the problem. The answer may be as complex as a career change or as easy as a shift in your attitude.