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This Could Explain Why You’re Not Getting Ahead at Work

Mary Godwin, VP of operations at QumuloMary Godwin, VP of operations at Qumulo
Mary Godwin, VP of operations at QumuloCourtesy of Qumulo

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: What is the most difficult decision you’ve made in the past year? is written by Mary Godwin, VP of operations at Qumulo.

One of our core values at Qumulo is to “always do the hard, right thing”. This applies to all of the decisions that we make: from supporting a customer, supporting each other, to admitting and fixing our mistakes. The fact that we have agreed to live by this value means that difficult decisions do not happen periodically – they happen regularly.

At Qumulo, doing the “hard, right thing” or “HRT” always means total commitment to our customers, but it has internal implications as well. For me, sometimes the “HRT” means implementing a strategy that is completely different from what I have done previously. Sometimes it means working late to help someone else on your team achieve a goal. Sometimes it means speaking up when necessary or shutting up to hear someone else’s point of view. Mostly, I think that doing the “hard, right thing” involves listening more than talking, internalizing what I am hearing, and challenging myself to go outside of my comfort zone. (Deep breathing exercises are involved to quell the internal panic.)

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I’ve been working in my field for more than 30 years now and over the course of my career, I have developed some well-worn paths toward solving various problems. As I go about my daily decision-making under the “HRT” plan, I can never go back and “do what I always did.” This value challenges me to ask myself if I am falling back into a comfortable groove or if I am pushing myself to be better and think differently. I’m learning that even in the tech world you have to “kill your darlings.” Let me tell you, this can be really difficult.

Recently, I have had to be honest with myself about starting a project that I have been ignoring for quite a while. It has to do with making a significant change to our supply chain. The outcome has a lot of unknowns, and frankly, whenever I think about it, all I really want to do is to curl up in a ball and throw a blanket over my head. But I can’t – because I’ve made a promise to myself and my team members to always do the “hard, right thing.” So here I go, into the abyss. But here’s the upside. By committing to this particular value, I’ve also committed to continuously re-invent myself with every decision — even if it can be exhausting. Hopefully, there will be some “easy, right things” along the way, too.