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Personal choices and career consequences

Published:Wednesday | April 18, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Glenford Smith, Career Writer

Glenford Smith, Career Writer

Do you think it is right for your company to judge your suitability for the job by something that happens in your personal life?

Why should it matter if you lose your temper and beat up your wife occasionally, for instance? And why should your boss care about your alcoholism problem, if you don't drink at work?

Undoubtedly, some people will insist that one's personal life shouldn't have anything to do with how he or she is judged on the job. If you show up to work on time and do a good job, they will assert, nothing else should matter. This is a valid point of view.

However, things don't happen like that in the real world. In real life, your personal choices inevitably have consequences for your career.

Ask star golfer Tiger Woods who has lost multiple millions because of his marital infidelity and subsequent break-up. Ask reggae superstar Buju Banton, whose iconic career came to a screeching halt with his conviction on drug-trafficking charges. Ask Vybz Kartel, dancehall star, whose dominance in the genre is now at risk, as his career is forced to go on pause as he languishes in jail on multiple murder charges.

Or take the late great pop star Whitney Houston. Her private life of relationship turmoil, and drug and alcohol abuse derailed her brilliant career and contributed to her premature death.

Obviously, the examples are too numerous to list: from sports, entertainment, media, business, politics and religion - the promising careers of many high-profile people have crashed because of personal scandal.

But wait, you're no celebrity, right? Your name would never make the news if you're suspended, fired or forced to resign because of private indiscretions.

You're right. But if your private misdemeanour or major transgression causes you to lose your job, it won't matter that only your close friends and former co-workers know.

Things like criminal indictments, sexual infidelities, addictions, and bankruptcies can adversely affect your career prospects, whether you're a public figure or not. That's why this column wants to remind you to be careful.

Beware of dubious decisions

If you've spent years building your career, it would be devastating to risk it with dubious decisions and careless indiscretions. Your ability to advance in your career is highly dependent upon other people and their perception of you.

If you're in business, your customers and clients, partners and allies have to trust you. If you're a professional, your boss, colleagues and external liaisons must have confidence in you.

Whatever you do as a private person will have consequences for your career, for good or ill. Much of your career success hinges upon your reputation.

A popular quote says, "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."

Although commonly believed, this is pure folly nonetheless.

Watch your reputation. Most people will never take the time to know your true character if your reputation raises a red flag for them. Always remember, choices have consequences. For the sake of your career, choose wisely.

Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of a new book 'From Problems to Power: How to Win Over Worry and Turn Your Obstacles into Opportunities'. Email