As I reflect on the different jobs that I've had in my life,
one of the recent lessons that I've learned is that to be the most successful
employee, you have to know yourself. You
have to be self-aware, not just of your own professional strengths and weaknesses, but of
how your personal life very subtly impacts your professional performance.
Of course, we have all encountered a co-worker who was going
through a divorce, coping with the loss of a loved one, or facing some similar
situation that impacted the person's job performance.
But the impact of your personal life on your professional
life can be more subtle than going through some negative traumatic event.
For my wife and me, our decision to move from
a big city (Chicago
) to a smaller suburban town
had an impact, the extent to which I have only recently realized.
Both my wife and I grew up in suburbs, though
we lived in Chicago
for just under ten years after college.
we decided to move to Peoria
we knew that we would miss the city life, but we thought that we would easily
adjust back to a lifestyle closer to how we grew up.
But what I did not realize until recently was just how much
I have converted to being an urbanite.
During my time in Peoria, I intensely
missed the busy social spaces of Chicago.
I missed walking down the street and seeing so many different people from all
walks of life. I missed the ability to
walk home from work, and grabbing a beer in the bar at the first floor of our
high rise. Sometimes I missed the
relative anonymity of the big city, where every once in a while it felt good to
be just one person among many. I never adjusted
to something as simple as having my own car and driving it to work everyday in Peoria. While many people feel liberated by having a
car, I realized that I feel more liberated without one.
When I look back at my time in Peoria, I got very good performance
evaluations. But I think that my personal
lifestyle change impacted my professional happiness on the job. As much as we try to cabin our personal and
professional lives, I do not think that this is possible to do. I think that employees owe it to their
employers to be self-aware, and to understand themselves enough to choose a
situation that allows them to succeed the most.
Being a good employee is not just about leaving your
personal business at home. It is about
aligning your entire personal lifestyle in a way that allows you to perform your very best.