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Become a Leper

Don’t react to every little thing, keep your powder dry, and become unstoppable

Become a Leper

Seems the only selling point to becoming a leper—besides the whole getting-your-own-island thing—is the whole being-impervious-to-pain thing. No, not in the superhero sense; rather, in the sense that your neurons are frayed and decayed to the point they can no longer signal the brain there’s been some sort of physical breach by heat or cold or trauma.

Uh… maybe that’s not such a bonus after all.

In actual fact and in all seriousness, this is indeed the most debilitating condition of leprosy, as absence of pain does not equal absence of injury. You may be bruised, burned or battered, but you just don’t know it, and it’s this inability to feel and react and adjust that makes it the curse that keeps on vexing.

Same goes for your career.

Because if you can’t—whatever the workplace equivalent is to resting your bare hand on a hot stove—modify your actions or attitudes based on external stimuli, you are doomed to fail. Or at least doomed to fail to reach your potential. And that’s a pain, a lost opportunity that you’ll not only feel right where it hurts, but that you’ll carry around with you the rest of your life.

“For all sad words of tongue or pen,” a poet once wrote, “the saddest are these: ‘It might have been.’”

And the saddest part of the saddest part is that it’s so un-f’ing unnecessary. Come on, bruh. The world abounds in feedback, explicit and implied. Friends, family, bosses, employees, weirdos in the supermarket. It’s here, there and everywhere. Like the Holy Spirit… or the Electric Slide.

Boogie, woogie, woogie.

All you need to do it is tune yourself into the feedback frequency. Here’s how:

Ask And Ye Shall Receive

Most people are polite… well, at least to your face. So even if they think you’re an idiot or a goofball or a brownnoser or a knucklehead or a jerk or an egomaniac or—well, you get the point—they’re not going to say it to your face. Especially if you’re the boss. For the most part, employees tell them only what they want to hear because constantly complaining may get you labeled a whiner or a winger or a grump or a moaner or—well, you get the point—and perhaps you’ll fall out of grace with your superior.

Attention all big cheeses and even medium cheeses out there. You need to foster the type of relationships with employees so they feel comfortable to approach you with some bad news. Ask open-ended questions on what needs improvement. If you think about it, a big chunk of what managers and executives do is extinguish fires before they blaze out of control. Makes sense you’d want to know when and where they’re about to ignite. All you have to do it engage, ask, and listen.

Social Dilemma

Think about your social media circle. If yours is anything like everyone else’s, there are a couple of Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections that don’t know how to discriminate between the interesting and the banal. They think everything they do is post-worthy.

News flash: It ain’t.

But at least there’s a way, a quantitative way to discern how others feel about that Halloween picture of your 10-year-old dressed like a guard from the Squid Game, or your 840-word column, uh, comparing your career to leprosy. It’s the “like” button. People either like a post or they abstain. Simple. But let’s be honest: people are liberal with their likes to a fault, so abstention means they actually didn’t like it, or they found it so uninteresting they scrolled right past it.

Track your likes and views to get a sense of what’s resonating and what’s falling flat. Then do more of the former and less—or zero—of the latter.

50 Million Elvis Fans

Can’t be wrong. So, if everyone says the same thing about you, whether positive or negative, it’s probably true. And even if it’s not true, with perception being reality and whatnot, it’s still true.

Don’t fight the wisdom of crowds.

That’s why so many people—and you’ve known scores of them over the years—that even when confronted with the unanimous opinion that something needs to change in their job performance or management style or overall personality, they listen intently and…

Stay exactly the same.

And then they bounce out of your company and onto the next, and onto the next and onto the next.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Don’t do that. Life is all about adjustments. Absorb all the clues and cues out there and use them to get better. Constant improvement is the key to success. Well, one of them, anyway. Meh, OK, it’s probably in the top five. And just imagine how much more valuable you would be to your organization a month from now or a year from now if you just eked out a smidgeon of development every day.

You’d become unstoppable.

Roger Snow is a senior vice president with Light & Wonder. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Light & Wonder or its affiliates.