Career Success Advice from “Desiderata”

I find inspiration for this career success blog in odd places and at odd times.  I was riding my bike the other day and found the inspiration for this post in a somewhat ugly incident that occurred at the intersection of Severn and Holly Streets here in Denver.

I was at a stop sign on Severn waiting for the car on Holly that did not have a stop to pass.  As he did, I looked and saw another car about a block away on Holly.  I had plenty of time to get across the intersection, so I did.  As I was crossing the intersection, I heard driver of the oncoming car speed up and start blaring his horn.  By this time I was safely across and he hadn’t even reached the intersection, increased speed and all.

When he reached the intersection, he honked his horn again and yelled “f***you.”

My first thought was “f***you back, you a**hole.”  My second thought was the career advice in Tweet 136 in my career success book Success Tweets.  “Be responsible for yourself.  No one can ‘make you angry.’ Choose to act in a civil, constructive manner in tense situations.”

My first thought was that the other driver made me angry.  My second thought was that anger is a choice and I can avoid it.

About a week ago, I got an email from David McMurtry, one of my friends at the Go For It! Institute.  He sent Desiderata – one of my favorite poems.  The first two stanzas speak directly to my recent unpleasant situation on my bike.  The rest of it is pretty good too.   Check it out.


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

In other words, don’t let small things out of your control piss you off.  Take responsibility for yourself.

Your values are your personal guide for day-to-day living.  They are the best way to take responsibility for yourself.  They help you make decisions in your everyday life.  Values ground you – providing direction for decision making in ambiguous situations — and are important to your life and career success.

Here are my personal values…

  • Always do my best.
  • Treat all people with the respect and dignity they deserve as fellow human beings.
  • Help others wherever and whenever I can – with no strings attached.
  • Use my common sense.
  • Be a supportive and loving husband.

I use these values as a guide for my day-to-day living.  I do my best to conduct myself in a manner that is consistent with them.  Several months ago, I did a blog post in which I mentioned an argument I had with my dad.  I let myself get angry over a trivial matter.  After I calmed down, I called my dad to apologize.  I did this because one of my personal values is, “Treat all people with the respect and dignity they deserve as fellow human beings.”

By raising my voice and arguing, I was not conducting myself in accordance with one of my personal values – so I had to do something (apologize) to rectify the situation.  This value of treating people with respect and dignity is so ingrained in me that I had a feeling of unease for the two days it took me to apologize for losing my temper.

That’s the way values work.  They become so much a part of you that when you act in a manner inconsistent with them, you feel a little off and uncomfortable.  This discomfort led me to do what I needed to do to fix the problem I had created.

Just last week I had an experience that gets at what I’m talking about here.  I sent an email to a group of people with whom I have an affinity asking if they would like to join me as a joint venture partner.  Several said “yes.”  I received a response from one person that was an email with a subject line that said REMOVE.  There was no body in the text.

I sent this person a very nice email in which I apologized for bothering her, assured her that I would not contact her again and attached one of my eBooks as a sign of good will.  I received a rather condescending response to the second email – offering me coaching on email etiquette.  We traded two more emails discussing this issue.

I finally figured out that this person had a strong need to have the last word in this correspondence.  I chose to terminate the conversation – and let her have the last word.  By letting her have the last word, I was following the career advice in Tweet 136.  “Choose to act in a civil, constructive manner in tense situations.”

I think that I was the aggrieved party in this situation, but in the long run it doesn’t matter.  I took responsibility for not extending a conflict situation that was of little or no importance by letting the other person have the last word – something that seemed important to her.

The career success coach point here is simple common sense.  Successful people are clear about what they want out of their lives and careers.  They define what success means to them, personally.  They create a vivid mental image of their success.  And they develop a set of personal values that guides their day-to-day life.  They follow the career advice in Tweet 136 in Success Tweets.  “Be responsible for yourself.  No one can ‘make you angry.’  Choose to act in a civil, constructive manner in tense situations.”  Your values are guides to decision making in ambiguous situations.  They provide you with the guidance you need as you go through life.  Take a few minutes to think about what’s important to you.  Write it down.  Then live your life by these values.  You’ll be on your way to your life and career success.

That’s my take on the career advice I found on a recent bike ride and in the poen, Desiderata.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download a free copy of my latest career success book Success Tweets Explained.  It’s a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.


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