Leave It in Baggage Claim

Leave It in Baggage Claim  
Letting Career By Gones Be By Gones

Have you ever had the dreaded air travel experience of arriving at your destination ahead of your baggage and having to make the visit to Baggage Claim? The agent informed you that the location of your baggage was unknown or that your baggage may arrive in 1-2 days. You may first think that not having the belongings in your baggage will ruin your trip. You then decide to do what you need to do to make your trip enjoyable.

You may experience visits to Baggage Claim in your career. The baggage could be an unpleasant experience such as an unsuccessful project, an unsatisfactory performance appraisal, or an unpleasant relationship with a peer or a supervisor. 

I was once responsible for a project that bombed. The project objectives were not accomplished and the budget was exceeded. It was a mess! I was fortunate in that I had many successes to offset the unfavorable impact of the project. Of course, the failure of the project did not nurture my relationship with my boss at that time.  And, my boss at the time was new to the company. He had not witnessed my successes.

Three years later, I was assigned to lead a significant initiative. Guess what!  One of the sponsors of the initiative was the person who was my boss during the time of the unsuccessful project. As I began to manage the initiative, I realized that my former boss was not being supportive. His words and actions reflected doubt in my ability to lead the initiative. (Could you fault him?) At the same time, I was receiving compliments from the other sponsors on how well I was managing the initiative. 

I discussed the situation with my current boss. He informed me that my former boss was influenced by the results of the unsuccessful project. In the words of my current boss, “He is carrying baggage from the other project.”  I decided not let the doubts of my former boss keep me from successfully managing the initiative. I met the objectives and gained the confidence of my former boss. This was a great learning experience for me.  I would like to share my thoughts and recommendations on how you can deal with your career baggage.

  • Stay focused on the present and not what happened in the past.
  • Ensure that you have a clear understanding of what is expected of you with the people who will evaluate your performance.
  • Establish what you are specifically expected to deliver.
  • Ensure that there is a clear understanding of how the results of the project or assignment will be evaluated and who will perform the evaluation.
  • Review the way you are doing things now versus your approach in the past to ensure that you are not repeating your mistakes.
  • Solicit advice from a peer, colleague, former supervisor, or even a coach (second air of eyes).
  • Remember that you can influence the opinions of others, but you cannot control them. (You cannot force someone to recognize your accomplishments. However, it is very difficult to argue with success.)
  • Keep in mind that:

The past is a reference, not a residence.

Do you need to change your career residence?

Contact Fields of Success to schedule a discussion. Fields of Success offers complimentary coaching sessions.

Linwood Bailey is a career coach and the author of The Business of Me: Your Job … Your Career … Your Value. The Business of Me provides a career management and information resource designed for today’s business professional. Since 2008, Linwood has enabled business professionals to manage their most important economic asset—their careers. Linwood, the been there coach, provides innovative and practical career management solutions derived from his 34 years of experience managing functions and people in multiple industries, regions, and corporate cultures.