Recently, I was standing in a crowded streetcar on busy King Street West in downtown Toronto. You could feel the tension reaching a fever pitch as our streetcar inched along in bumper-to-bumper traffic. A man at the back of the streetcar began to strum his guitar and, as if by my magic, headphones dropped from ears, smiles appeared on faces, conversations became quiet whispers and tension was replaced by the relaxation and happiness of listening to some good live music. This man playing the guitar so simply and brilliantly had shifted the atmosphere in the streetcar and the attitudes of its riders. Unfortunately, the impromptu concert only lasted several minutes yet all of us felt lucky to have had this wonderful interlude in our days. The experience made me think that you can choose whether to be a hummer, a drummer or a strummer this summer in your career or business.
If you choose to be a hummer this summer in your career or business, you will have made a conscious commitment to just go with the flow, keep things status quo and see no need to grow. You will be a supporter in the background rather than a leader in the spotlight. Your rhythm will be calm and consistent regardless of what opportunity or challenge comes your way. In your mind, summer is the time to relax, refresh and recharge so you are going to slow down and then rev up in September after Labour Day. Keeping your head down, getting your work done and avoiding taking on any additional responsibilities, helping out colleagues or gaining new clients/customers is how you want to be a hummer this summer in your career or business.
If you choose to be a drummer this summer in your career or business, you will turn up the heat, maintain your current momentum and see the summer as an abundant season of growth and opportunity. You will be working full out, making some serious noise and looking for ways to impress, influence and persuade others as well as handle new opportunities and challenges that will undoubtedly show up late on a sunny Friday afternoon when the office has emptied and your most important client/customer or a senior executive calls with something that must be taken care of for first thing on Monday morning. As your colleagues begin to disappear on much deserved summer vacations, you will see their absences as a chance to demonstrate your leadership and readiness for more responsibilities. Your clients/customers may also be taking vacations so you will be checking in with them to potentially do work for them while they are away. They will not only eagerly and gratefully give you more work upon their return but they will also appreciate how proactive and prepared you are to meet their needs in their absence and to serve their needs once they ramp up in September. You really want to stand out this summer and let everyone know what you can do. Just like the flowers are blooming and the plants are growing, you will want to keep blooming and growing and get a head start in your career and business so you will be the one that they choose for the plum assignments that will undoubtedly appear in September. The summer is a great time to connect with new or existing contacts and you may be able to drum up business from some unlikely sources. This is how you can be a drummer this summer in your career or business.
If you choose to be a strummer this summer in your career or business, you will probably work hard and play hard in equal doses. There will be hot sunny days when you will be working hard with focus and discipline or when you will be spending time at a park, patio, beach or cottage and making the most of the best of summer. You will want to maintain a balance between being flexible and forceful, patient and pushy, adaptable and aggressive, comfortable and committed, relaxed and responsible. You will want to stay in a energetic and enthusiastic rhythm at work, allow for some transition time and then switch to a slow and steady rhythm during your non-work time. You will want to take some risks and try some new things to develop your career or expand your business like volunteering, taking courses, attending conferences or networking events, meeting with colleagues and competitors, finding a mentor or coach or making a plan to pursue new projects and initiatives in the fall. You will want to stay in close touch with colleagues and clients/customers yet give them the space that they need to stretch their legs and ease their minds. You will want to show empathy, kindness and gratitude to everyone you meet just like the guitar player on the streetcar. This is how you can be a strummer this summer in your career or business.
Whether you choose to be a hummer, drummer or strummer this summer, make a decision to maintain a positive attitude and a commitment to continuity and consistency rather than complacency in your career or business.