Career Success Advice From an Auto Repair Shop

Today’s career advice is prompted by a visit to a local car repair shop in Denver, Downing Street Garage. I’m not a big car guy. I drive a 1999 Jeep Cherokee. It has about 55,000 miles on it. I plan on keeping it for a long time so I get it serviced regularly.

I had been getting it serviced at the dealership where I bought it. Three things made me take a chance on the Downing Street Garage. Frist, it is close to where I live. Second, I stopped in there on day when I was on my bike to get air in my tires. The staff was friendly and the place was immaculate. Third, it comes recommended by AAA.

I gave them a call and scheduled an appointment. That’s when I met Alfredo Acevedo, the man who runs Downing Street Garage. Alfredo was friendly. He inspired confidence. More important, he gave me a clear, easy to understand estimate. The car was ready when it was supposed to be, and the total costs were a little less than the estimate. He even sent someone to pick me up when it was time to retrieve the car. She got the best car vacuums we have found.

I was really impressed with the service and the people at Downing Street Garage. Alfredo stapled his business card to the receipt. When I returned to my office, I noticed that the back of the card listed the Downing Street Garage Core Values:

  • Integrity, Honesty, Respect and Trust
  • Extraordinary Service
  • Do It Right – No Short Cuts
  • Communication and Teamwork
  • Have Fun

I  was more impressed after I saw those values.  I advise all of my career success coaching clients to clarify their personal values. Tweet 18 in my career advice book Success Tweets says, “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything. Your values help you make decisions in ambiguous situations.” Tweet 19 says, “Your personal values are things that you hold near and dear; things on which you absolutely will not compromise.”

Your personal values are your career success foundation. They should be solid, unshakeable principals, things that guide your life and your decision making. They should be fad-proof; ideas on which you can rely in the long run.

My personal values are simple: common sense, simplicity, optimism, human potential, providing value, trust, individuality, hard work, the power of 1. These values are the foundation on which I have built my life and career success. They guide my decision making. I turn to them when I need help figuring out what to do. They have served me well. And, I will not compromise on them.

Let me give you an example. A couple of years ago, I was approached by an HR executive at one of my corporate clients. He asked if I would be willing to provide some coaching for one of the leaders at the operation for which he is responsible. Of course, I said yes.

I submitted a proposal outlining how I would approach this specific coaching project. Then, over the next few months, I answered a lot of questions about my approach to the coaching, how much it would cost, etc. I sent the HR exec several of my books gratis. I really thought I had the gig sown up. Imagine my surprise when he called me to tell me that while he would have preferred to use my services, his HR boss at corporate headquarters instructed him to use another coach who was doing some work in another part of the company.

If you’ve ever worked hard to make a sale and then lost it due to something completely out of your control, you know how I felt – frustrated. I was discussing this situation with a colleague. She said that she would have been very angry about this situation. I wasn’t angry, stuff happens in business. I was a little frustrated, but I chose to let it go because I’m an optimist and know that other opportunities will come my way.

Because I value optimism, the Optimist Creed guides my behavior. Point 1 of The Optimist Creed says, “Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.” Point 4 says, “Promise yourself to look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.” As I truly value optimism and this advice, I had to let go of the frustrating situation. Holding on to it would have created negative energy that would have impacted my work. I don’t have time for negative energy. I’m an optimist. As Point 10 of The Optimist Creed says, I am “too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.” I value optimism. Therefore, I let go of the situation and moved on.

By the way, I have created a frameable .pdf of The Optimist Creed. If you would like a free copy to frame and hang in your workspace, go to to download it. I have given away over 5,000 copies of it to readers of this blog and my career success coach clients.

Here’s another example. I value trust. I am a trustworthy person, and I assume that on the part of other people. That’s why most often I do business on a handshake. I will sign a contract if it’s absolutely necessary; some companies won’t hire me without a signed contract. But I prefer my working relationships to be less formal. Some people say this is naïve. I think it is trusting. I’m not trying to convince you to do business on a handshake. I bring it up here to show you how my personal value of trust impacts my work every day.

I value hard work. It’s in my genes. I am skeptical of and turned off by Internet offers to set up a business that requires little to no work. My belief is that the dictionary is the only place success comes before work. This doesn’t mean that I am inefficient about what I do. That’s not the case. I outsource a lot of my technical work because I’m not good at it. I don’t want to become an html expert. On the other hand, I use my time to do the things I’m good at – like writing books and this blog, appearing as a guest on Internet and broadcast radio interviews, working with my career success coach clients. I work hard at doing the things that help me advance my business and career success. I believe the old adage, “the harder I work, the luckier I get.”

The common sense point here is simple. Successful people use their personal values as a foundation. They will listen to new ideas, but don’t change on a whim. They heed the career advice in Tweets 18 and 19 in Success Tweets. “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything. Your values help you make decisions in ambiguous situations.” (18) “Your personal values are things that you hold near and dear; things on which you absolutely will not compromise.” (19) This means that you should think long and hard about your values. They should come from deep inside you. Once you clarify them, live them. Be true to yourself and your personal values. You’ll find that your personal values are a foundation that will serve you well when things get tough and frustrating. I use my personal values as a guide to living and life and career success. The folks at Downing Street Garage do the same. What about you?

That’s the career advice I found in a trip to my new favorite auto repair shop, Downing Street Garage in Denver. What do you think? Please take a minute to share your thoughts – and/or your personal values with us by leaving a comment. As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.




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  1. Thanks for your kind words.

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