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Travel Light to Work

As a frequent traveler, my goal for each trip is to travel light. Despite thoughtful planning, sometimes that goal is shattered when I go to close the suitcase and realize I need a larger, or even second one. I can't always get my packing right and end up taking more than I need. When that happens it's frustrating. I hate lugging extra baggage and feeling encumbered.

Work is like that, too. We often bring too much baggage. It may not look like baggage, but it weighs us down just the same. It's disguised as past relationships with bosses; previous work experiences; mind-talk about whether we can or can't do something; how we've been treated in work (and life), or how we think we have. And usually there's at least one duffle bag stuffed with our expectations.

I've found in twenty years of management most people bring suitcases full of self-doubt, old patterning from old relationships and self-fulfilling prophesies to work every day, and it stifles them. Most people let past work experiences dictate their future ones. So if they've worked in three different jobs or companies, those three job experiences are packed into the suitcases they're lugging. Some people end up lugging dozens and dozens of them.

They're like the travelers in this story I heard. One day a young man stopped his car at the side of the road as he entered the township limits. An older woman paused from her gardening as he approached. "I'm thinking of moving to this town," he told her, "and I was wondered if you could tell me what the people are like here?" "Well," she said, "what were the people like where you lived before?" "Demanding and competitive and not very helpful," he said. "Well," she told him, "I think you'll find people the same way here."

A little while later another man stopped and approached the woman. Again she was asked what the townspeople were like and again she asked the traveler what his experience had been where he lived before. "Oh, the people were great. Everyone was helpful and supportive - a real community." "You'll find people the same way here," she said.

People who are winning at working are like that second traveler. They know in work (and life) you tend to get what you expect. And if they're encumbered with emotional baggage and poor expectations, they get poor results. Instead, they follow advice like Deepak Chopra's, "Always expect the best and you'll see that the outcome is spontaneously contained in the expectation."

People who are winning at working are one suitcase people. Like a seasoned world traveler, they've learned what essentials to pack. They bring to work only those skills and experiences that will positively impact their work and future. They leave the rest of their baggage behind. Want to be winning at working? Travel light.

(c) 2005 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved.

Sign up to receive Nan's free biweekly eColumn at Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. She has held leadership positions in Human Resource Development, Communication, Marketing and line Management. Nan has a B.A. from Stanford University and M.A. from the University of Michigan. Currently working on her first book, Winning at Working: 10 Lessons Shared, Nan is a writer, columnist, small business owner, and on-line instructor. Visit or contact Nan at

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