• Mel Butcher

Guiding Principles: One Woman's Career Manifesto

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

Hand holding compass with greenery and mountain landscape in the distance.

During my spare time, I produce and host a podcast where I interview women who are typically working in male-dominated careers. At the end of interviews, I like to ask an open question, something like -- Do you have anything else about your career or thoughts in general that you would like to share with the audience? My most recent guest, Christen Wood - a wastewater treatment plant operator, shared this:

"Having a guiding principle that you develop (for yourself) is important. I am a huge Bill Nye fan; he changed my life. He's a person I've always wanted to emulate. When he told his story of developing the Bill Nye the Science Guy show, what he did was develop "The Rules of the Road"...

(This image was recreated from the original Bill Nye rules document, which you can view here.)

... They are this manifesto of what it means to be Bill Nye the Science Guy and what that show is supposed to be about. When I saw he put that together early in the project and always looked back to it (for guidance)... I wanted to do that for myself. Some of my rules of the road are:

  • Share Information Always - no hoarding, using it against people, or assuming people don't want it. Post signs, Send Emails. Talk. Use at least three types of communication for the really important stuff.

  • Stay positive, relentlessly positive. It will make others calmer and happier. Except the haters, it'll drive them crazy

  • Admit mistakes. Everyone already knows.

  • Walk the plant, everyday, no excuses. You can't be the expert if you aren't immersed in it... and who doesn't want to be immersed in wastewater?

  • People are more important than the process, the process is more important than the equipment, and the equipment is more important than your ego.

  • Just because you're the expert doesn't mean you're right. And that goes for your bosses too."

Christen went on to say that this is what she goes back to as her personal guiding principles and hopes that these are what make her an effective leader. This is one of the more poignant bits of personal philosophy that a guest has shared and it gave me pause. How much better could our careers, team interaction, and even project outcomes be if we put this type of reflection into our values and priorities?

If you have a set of guiding career principles, I would love to read them in the comments, or please feel welcome to drop me a line.

#Career #Manifesto #SewerChic #BillNye #PlantOperator #Wastewater #Wisdom

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