Charlie's Dad

TIMELESS ADVICE FOR MY FIRST BORN

Posts tagged Career

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The Power of the Pen

The military is known for having decorations and awards, and for the most part they serve their purpose of rewarding people for their accomplishments or hard work. However, the most underutilized form of recognition is a simple letter of appreciation. I think it is underutilized because people really don’t think it means much, but they are wrong. A simple letter means a lot to the person who receives it, and it takes nothing to create.

I have a simple criteria for writing letters of appreciation. If someone goes out of their way to help me do my job or if a person helps me when he’s not required to, I write him a letter. If a person helps me even once during my mission and her small part plays a role in something greater, I write a letter (in those instances I make it a point to say she played a part in something important). Sometimes I’ll address it to the person who helped me, but often times I’ll address it to his or her boss.

If the person is a peer, I get my own boss to sign the letter. In this case I typically talk to my boss in person first, and then I offer to write the letter for him. That is especially important, because people are typically lazy or disinterested in what someone else did for you, and won’t bother to write it. I also make sure there is an organizational letterhead that looks important (especially if I work for an important organization), and bug the hell out of my boss until it is signed.

I have probably written dozens of these letters and I am sure some think I overdo it, but I don’t see what the hell the big deal is. It is a simple letter. I am not advocating a promotion or praising the person’s overall performance. I am simply offering a formal “thank you,” that will stay with that person for the rest of his career. And that is important, because often times good work goes unnoticed.

It is simple, Charlie. You have seen the impacts plenty of times, from teachers’ positive comments on homework to comment cards you fill out for a waiter at a restaurant. A letter of appreciation is just a more formalized version of those examples. It is a powerful thing to formally thank a person for his hard work, so don’t ever miss an opportunity to do so when the situation presents itself.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of the pen.

Filed under Appreciation Letter Military LOA Thank You Work Career Impact Recognition

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The Money Chase

My plan is to show you this blog when you are about 20 years old. If I stick to that and you are reading this as a young man, perhaps you are thinking about what you want to strive for in life. If so, there is something I want you to consider.

If your strive to chase money son - as many do - you are going to find it is a goal you never see to fruition. Sure, you will probably make a lot of it and you will probably buy a lot with it. But there will always be more to buy and hence, more money you will need to make.

In short, you will never reach the end.

However, your children will grow up … your body will grow old … and the people you love will die. This is inevitable, and one day you will reach the end of your life. When that day comes, how will you feel about the goal you chose to pursue?

I know, maybe it is a drag to think about now. Well, don’t worry. Breathe a sign of relief, because you are only 20 years old son. You haven’t wasted your life chasing money … in fact, you are just beginning it! So take a minute to think about what I have said. Think about the example I and your mother have shown.

Spend time with your children while they are young, spend time with the people you love, and do things that truly make you happy. Do this and you will be happy son.

Please, do not choose to spend your life trapped in the money chase.

Filed under Money Chase Life Decisions Career Wealth Rich Children Kids Love Live Happy Happiness Finances Cash Security Wasted

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Work Tip #64 - Always Do Things In Person When Possible
Nothing substitutes an in-person exchange Charlie. Absolutely nothing.
That’s not to say it’s not easier to write something, when you have time on your side to get it just right. But if you’re capable of giving that same message in person, it’s definitely better.
Delivering a message in person shows the message is important to you, and the person you give it to is worth the time to deliver it personally. It also forces the person to give feedback, and confront you in person if they have a negative reaction or want to provide some resistance.
In the military, I often had the responsibility of caring for subordinates. Whenever I needed something for them, I went personally to get it - and I’d bring the subordinate along if I could. When I was in Afghanistan I brought our commander to every post my guys were at - no matter how austere or dangerous - so that commander had a face and experience to reflect on the next time he saw a request for that person come across his desk. The person was no longer a name on a sheet of paper, something much easier to reject.
Relying on E-mail, phone conversations, etc., breeds miscommunication and missed opportunities. So the next time you need something done, get off your ass and go get it done. You and your people will be better off for having done it.
Work Tip #64 - Always Do Things In Person When Possible

Nothing substitutes an in-person exchange Charlie. Absolutely nothing.

That’s not to say it’s not easier to write something, when you have time on your side to get it just right. But if you’re capable of giving that same message in person, it’s definitely better.

Delivering a message in person shows the message is important to you, and the person you give it to is worth the time to deliver it personally. It also forces the person to give feedback, and confront you in person if they have a negative reaction or want to provide some resistance.

In the military, I often had the responsibility of caring for subordinates. Whenever I needed something for them, I went personally to get it - and I’d bring the subordinate along if I could. When I was in Afghanistan I brought our commander to every post my guys were at - no matter how austere or dangerous - so that commander had a face and experience to reflect on the next time he saw a request for that person come across his desk. The person was no longer a name on a sheet of paper, something much easier to reject.

Relying on E-mail, phone conversations, etc., breeds miscommunication and missed opportunities. So the next time you need something done, get off your ass and go get it done. You and your people will be better off for having done it.

Filed under Business Work Tip Career In-Person Meeting E-mail Communication Personal Message Phone Telephone Call Important Miscommunication

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Work Tip #1

Be a good employee.

It doesn’t matter where you are in the chain, it is always important to be a good employee. Your boss pays you for one thing, to do what he or she says. Too many employees get caught up in what their boss should do, or the direction the company should go.

I used to tell my Marines this all the time. They would complain about the commander, and the unit, and how dumb everyone was. They would stress about these things. I’d ask them constantly, “Why are you wasting time thinking about all this, especially when you’re not getting paid any extra for it?”

Doing a job can be so easy. Find out what your boss wants, and just do it. At the end of the day, go home. Done. As long as you are not going against any personal morals, that’s really all there is to it.

If you can manage this, Charlie, trust me you’ll be one of the best employees at your job.

And you’ll probably be the boss before long.

Filed under Work Employee Boss Career Tip Employer Promotion Job

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Planning for the Future

Your mother may not agree with this one, so just don’t tell her I told you this.

Planning for your future is one of the most fruitless efforts you can engage in. Ask yourself this:  What do you want your life to be?

If you think you know the answer to that now, by all means, go ahead and start planning.

The problem is you probably don’t know, and even if you do … it will change. In fact, it’s always changing. I don’t know how old you are now as you read this, but ask yourself another question:  Are you happy with where you are now?

If you are (and I hope you are), imagine telling yourself five years earlier where you’d end up. Would that person be surprised? Probably yes, right? So how could he have possibly planned to get you to that happy place you are today?

I think you could make almost any person in the world ask themselves those questions, and they’d all say they had no idea they’d be where they are today five years ago. It’s impossible. We are horrible at predicting futures, especially our own. So why do we waste so much time worrying about the decisions we make today?

Get rid of ideas of what you should be in the future, Charlie. Do what you want today. Do great things today. Do fun things today.

I promise you, son, you will not regret it. You will definitely end up in some crazy place you never imagined. You will probably not become all the ideas you had in your youth, but you will be happy.

There’s not much you can do about the future, no matter how much you plan. But you can enjoy today, and you can make the most of it. Add the days up, and they are guaranteed to amount to an enjoyable life, full of wonderful experiences and quality relationships.

Filed under Life Planning Future College Career Happiness Relationships Live for Today Predictions Enjoyment

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What You Will Be When You Grow Up

The best part of having you, Charlie, is the opportunity to watch you grow into the person you will be one day.

As you grow up, I may give you the impression I expect great things from you. Maybe at times I will. But what I want more than anything is for you to become and do whatever makes you happiest.

In fact, I hope one day you use these words against me, and remind me of what is most important.

Parents often drive their children towards the decisions they think will make their children happiest, or away from decisions they think will make them unhappy or cause them pain. Parents do this even while they are learning, and still making mistakes of their own.

The years we have on you definitely make your mother and I a good source of knowledge, and we will do our best to teach you to make good decisions for yourself.  But we will never have the uncanny ability to make good decisions for you, nor do we want to.

You can grow up to be whatever you decide, without the burdens of a family name, a reputation, or any measures of success. In fact, we are excited to get to know this stranger we created!

Most important, if you are truly happy and using the life we gave you, then your mother and I will always be proud of you, and will always love you.

Filed under Grow Decisions Guidance Mother Father Happiness Future Career Life Children Unhappy Pain Mistakes Love Parents Knowledge Learning