Throughout my career, I’ve tried really hard to not succumb to the old adage “Nice guys finish last.” And by “nice” I also mean ethical, dependable, willing, and honest. I never wanted to believe that rising to the top meant stepping on others along the way. I’ve seen it happen both ways: I have known really nice guys [and by “guys” I mean both men and women] who have risen through the ranks because they are nice, never stepping on toes, always being politically correct, and staying under the radar. There are organizations who love that type of employee. They don’t cause any trouble! And on the opposite end of the spectrum I’ve known those who are relentless when it comes to demanding what they want, powering through ranks, keeping their sights straight ahead rather than around them.
In both cases, it seems to have less to do with how nice a person is as much as where their style, goals, and ambitions best fit. Those that find that ultimate match go far.
But as a business owner, I’ve learned that there is a time and a place for nice, and a time and place for standing my ground. I’ve also learned that you can do both simultaneously. When it comes to protecting myself, those who work for me, and my assets, well, that falls in the “standing my ground” category.
We’ve all been there. Especially when starting a new business. We’re so afraid of not having enough business that when someone actually wants to buy our products or services, we jump at the chance. And we tend to use the phrase “It’s okay” a lot. But all it takes is one bad client or customer to wake us up to the reality that there are bad people who will take advantage of a little guy like you or me.