In the March 2007 issue of Men’s Health they have an interesting article called WORRY YOUR WAY TO THE TOP:  How insecurity and paranoia can accelerate your career (I find the articles in Men’s Health often more interesting than Fortune).

The author, Gil Schwartz, suggest that if you are not sufficiently paranoid, the following can happen:

Bad people can stab you in the back:  His point being that there are not so nice people out there that love to victimize people. Unfortunately, true. Heck, I know a few people who consider themselves morally outstanding or ethically superior and I have watched them stab, stab, stab away.

Less-bad people can stab you in the front:  You see these people coming, swords flailing. A sunny attitude won’t help you to survive their attack. True. Of course, if you have built a good team around you, you can face them down through the strength of your team and network. Work doesn’t need to be a battle.

You won’t be allowed to hang around vicious predators, which means you wont be allowed to hang around with senior management. I laughed at this one. Sure, there are predators at the top – but there are also some who are just real tough and good business people. Business is not war .. sorry Gil.

People won’t bother to move your cheese, they will just steal it: Gil suggests that your smile is great, but many collegues will rob you blind if you give them a change. Gee Gil .. starting to lose faith in you. The first 2 made sense, these last 2 are a little too paranoid. I would suggest that if you are working there, seek new employment where the leader fosters a spirit of team and trust.

You won’t know what is going on most of the time: He has a point here, for the overly optimistic when the world is not perfect, they tilt. The world is not perfect, people do odd things, but if you take the time to know what is going on around you, then you can anticipate issues.  I also know a lot of people who thrive on this stuff – they love to be in the ‘know’. That being said, every minute getting into the ‘know’ is a minute spent away from actually DOING SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE.

I look at this article and see what is wrong in business. Too much conniving. How about doing a good job, making sure you have a strong network and building a great team with a foundation of trust?

I think I would rather be known as competent, tough but fair and a team builder over what the above suggests you become …  ‘political’. No thanks.

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