“It is hard, but sound advice: Don’t let your fears – even wholly legitimate ones – drive you. Hold on, have faith, retain your standards. In the short term this can be difficult. In the long run, it’s the only way to win.”

          – Peggy Noonan

If recent events are any indication of what we can expect in the 2018 Work Year, it will be a challenging year for us all. While the overall economy may be good, even a good economy may present increasing challenges.

For numerous reasons, each industry, profession, sector and employer will be under pressure to maintain its competitive position due to increasing competition, technological advances, concentration into mega-firms, and even political instability. You can speculate what these things mean for you, but no one knows for sure.

Each person, job and workplace are different, making broad generalizations difficult to make. But one generalization that can be made with confidence is that your wisest response to upcoming waves of workplace competition, disruption and insecurity may be a very simple one: maintain your personal and professional standards, regardless of what changes may take place in your work life.

Standards? I speak of standards of conduct (especially for men), standards of work quality, standards of honesty, integrity and civility. Whatever challenge you face at work, whatever crisis you may encounter, just strive to be faithful to your highest standards, whatever the events, conduct and circumstances around you.

Your “inner standards” are inside you, and you may not be entirely aware of what they are. But, they will make you uncomfortable, edgy and reluctant to proceed if you are headed down the wrong path. Listen to their “whisperings,” their messages of encouragement or warning. They will tell you when they feel violated.

By being known as among “the best of the bunch,” greater job security will be yours, more opportunities will come your way, and, as the saying goings, “the cream always rises to the top.” When I lived in the Northern woods, the only question was “Are you good wood or mere veneer?”

Giving in to the inevitable temptation to cut corners, to stretch the truth, to bend the rules will confront you each and every day. The most important question is this: Will you be able to say “yes” to the daily question, “Is this my best work?” or will you perform, well, “just good enough?”

Not retaining your own highest standards may result in better short-term results in new customers, sales, revenues, and hours billed. But, in the long term, maintaining your own highest inner standards will make you stand out, and in the long run, yield more faithful customers, trusting colleagues, enhanced job security and greater career opportunities.

And, too, fidelity to your highest standards will yield fewer instances of being questioned, criticized, alleged of wrongdoing, fired, or even having your career taken from you. And, oh yes, you will truly feel better about yourself when you are true to yourself.

However rough the seas and winds may be, the benefit of a stabilizing rudder cannot be underestimated. You will be propelled forward – wherever you are headed – by your own self-confidence and the confidence of others, as a firm, steady wind at your back.

The Work Year of 2017 saw a lowering of standards in many fields, especially in interpersonal conduct and public discourse. In 2018, we will all surely look forward to those in whom we know we can trust and depend, at home and in work life.

Just a thought for your upcoming 2018 Work Year.

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