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What Are You For?

Nan S. Russell -- This may seem like semantics. But the difference between being for something versus being against something is significant. Understanding the difference can be instrumental in determining career success.

Resist. Resist. Resist. That seems to be the congressional model these days. Whatever one party is for, the other is against. Before an idea makes it to the blogosphere, opposing party political pundits are railing against whatever approach or bill or stance was taken.

Now before smugness gets the better of us, I'd suggest we take a closer look. The against-it-resist-it road is alive and well in many workplaces, too. Of course the labels are different. It's not those Democrats or Republicans, it's those employees or that management; it's the boss or the workers; the finance department or human resources; or the front line versus support areas.

Being against something is often easier. We don't have to stick our necks out if we can grumble against budget tightening instead of proactively sharing fiscal responsibility by cutting our favorite projects or limiting our spending.

We don't have to risk failure when we can identify flaws in a coworker's approach rather than develop, pitch, and execute our own ideas. We don't have to look inward at where we work and shop when we can rant over senior level compensation, rather than standing firm for working at or buying only from companies that offer fair compensation to all levels.

When you follow the against-it-resist-it road, you don't have to be in the spotlight, voice what you believe in, or offer solutions. You can finger point or blame or identify problems without engaging in ideas or answers.

This may seem like semantics. But the difference between being for something versus being against something is significant.

You see, when you're for something more backbone is needed, more independent thinking is required, more integration between who you are and how you operate is necessary. When you're for something, you're working towards what you want to bring about or contribute to, and that shifts accountability, energy, and commitment.

Being for something requires strength of convictions and a willingness to stand up for them. And people who are winning at working know it's the way to create sustainable change, develop solutions to twenty-first century problems, ignite a thriving economy with plentiful jobs, have meaningful work, and engage personal talents and passions.

People who are winning at working know that it's when they tap into a purpose bigger than themselves that they offer the best of who they are to their work, and the world. They're full of ideas, self-motivation, trust building approaches, and meaningful contribution when they work for something they care about.

What about you? What do you aspire to bring about in your life? Be for that. What do you value? Be for that. What do you want more of in your work or workplace? Be for that.

Nan Russell is the award-winning author of Hitting Your Stride: Your Work, Your Way (Capital Books, January 2008), and nationally syndicated radio host of "Work Matters with Nan Russell" weekly on Nan has spent over twenty years in management, including as a Vice President with QVC. Today she is the founder and president of MountainWorks Communications, as well as an author, speaker and consultant. Visit or contact Nan at

© 2011 Nan Russell

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