The Career Lesson From Sunburn

The Career Lesson From Sunburn

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It is hot in the UK again this week. Us Brits aren’t so used to the sun, so you can always guarantee your fair share of pink faces on the train or in the office on the Monday morning after a particularly hot weekend. We are of course all well aware of the dangers of UV rays – apparently five or more sunburns in youth increases the chances of melanoma by 80% over the course of your life. That is pretty shocking, but nonetheless, there are always many people who are caught out by the unexpected severity of the midday sun.

It’s not like we don’t notice that it is there – it makes its presence felt as the beads of sweat form on our foreheads, and even with our sunglasses on it dominates the skyline. Why therefore don’t we do more to protect ourselves against it’s harmful rays? Do we think that we can get away with a thirty-minute lunchtime stroll? Do we slap on the Factor 8 when Factor 30 is required? Do we not know that having lunch in a tall building’s roof garden makes us burn even quicker?

Well, we do know these things, but too many of us ignore them. These people are in denial about the dangers, and they think that they are invincible…. until, many years later they may come to regret their youthful stupidity.

So, what has all this summer recklessness got to do with your career?

Well, no matter how swimmingly your career is going, it is easy to get burned when other people are involved. If you get yourself in too many harmful situations, the scars (emotional and professional) will be visible for the rest of your life. You can see it when someone comes into an interview with you – you touch a raw nerve about a certain subject, and you can see the memories of the pain etched all over their face. That time that they resigned in anger but took nine months to secure another role. The time that they ruined a relationship because they didn’t value someone’s trust. The time that they failed to unite a project team because they talked too much and listened too little.

In each of these situations, they didn’t stop to think about the potential threats to their relationships. Just the like sun’s UV rays, these threats are ever present whenever people communicate with each other. They need to be treated with empathy and understanding, mitigated if not entirely dealt with. It should be said that no suntan cream will help you in the Sahara Desert. If the sun (or any people-related situation) is that hot, wait until things cool down.

This comparison may seem a little random, but I want to leave you with one thought…. Just because something is invisible, it doesn’t mean that it can’t harm you. There are all sorts of conflicts potentially bubbling up in your relationships at work and at home, but if you seek to soothe them with some empathy, you will head off serious danger before it threatens to damage your future.

Written by Alex Turner, Edited by Paul Drury

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