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What’s for Sale?

We have all experienced that crossroads in our careers when someone pushed us to the limit.  It’s then that we must decide.

What is for sale?


It all happens so innocently. First you accept the job or project and get so excited about what you’re doing.  Things progress and you move more deeply into the issue, the solution and the range of options.

Then you face a question that rubs against your values and what you consider the “right thing to do.” What do you do?  Do you compromise your principals and beliefs to further your project and maybe your career or do you stand up for what YOU believe in.  It is tough…and of course there may be consequences up to and including losing your job.

What do you do?

The first time feels like this must be how things go.  Then as you move along in your career you realize you always have a choice.  Let me repeat that – we always have a choice.

As I reflect on my career, I am amazed at the people that have no sense of boundaries.  For these people, and we all know some…EVERYTHING is for sale.   They will do whatever they are asked to do by their boss or job with no sense of personal boundaries or conscience to themselves. They rationalize as part of the job or an obligation I have because of my compensation which supports my lifestyle and family.

What I’ve decided, is that some leaders use this test as a test of loyalty to ensure they have a solid support system.  For some there is no sense of personal value so anything goes.  Both of these situations highlight a fundamental leadership flaw – and they are not options for me.  I believe they are unhealthy regardless of what the books say.

I believe it is important to be in touch with what matters most to you.  And to be clear about your decision guidelines so you can use them to optimize the right decision under pressure.

This takes time to truly understand how you’re wired. You need to determine how you will operate your life and ultimately where you  draw the line.  It is an important distinction and one that defines who you really are as where the “buck stops” and the definition of who you are starts.  If you haven’t spent time exploring your boundaries, it is important to do so, especially since this crossroads WILL happen in your career path.

If you spend time before the issue exits, it will make the decision more clear.  And make it easier for you to see the boundary so you can optimize you final choice.

This quality of leadership will be more important in the future, not less.  I would encourage you to spend time to explore your values and be clear about your boundaries BEFORE you need to use them and ALWAYS debrief after each test of them to ensure you confirm your commitment and resolve to “how much of you” is for sale when you accept your next assignment.

I look forward to your feedback about this issue.  Have you experienced it?  How did you handle it?  What do you wish you had prepared for the situation knowing what you know now?  What advise would you have for others as they think about this issue?



This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. This can’t be done in the heat of the battle. You either learn it the hard way, by making bad decisions at critical junctions; or you take the time and effort necessary to decide “what is for sale” before you are faced with a critical situation. Stephen Covey writes, “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside.”

  2. Many times the crossroads don’t just appear right in front of you. They slowly come closer and closer…often times too slowly to really notice.

    The importance of knowing your boundaries early comes into play when you start observing the business trends. Is the business trending towards your values or further away? If it’s moving further from your values, the critical decision is either fight to correct it or recognize it’s just too far gone.

    Sometimes the toughest choice to make is leaving before you reach the crossroads.

  3. This was a very interesting read for me, as I am fairly young in the work place, and in a male dominant industry as a female. I believe I hold my own very well, know my stuff, and willing admit when I don’t. In the past, I feel like I accidentally made the right decision early on in my career of moving on from one company to another company, and at the time I didn’t really know why. After reading this article it made me realize, my gut/intuition was leading me in the right direct to not faulter with my beliefs/boundaries that were being pushed on me. Recently there have been some management changes with the company I work for that have me questioning how the new policy & procedures will affect what I do. I’m currently in a position that I can see a change coming.I don’t feel like the crossroad is in front of me yet, but this article gave me some clarity on what I should be thinking about and what my boundaries really are! So, when I do come to that crossroad my decision will be much easier and clearer to make! Thank you for that!

    1. Learning to set boundaries proactively, help you make better decisions in the “heat of the moment”. A simple discipline that few practice. Congrats to you for being patient in your current situation to let things play out and for being proactive in anticipating under what conditions is it time to think differently. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

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