The 1944 movie Lifeboat is a great American classic, but for the cast it almost became a great American tragedy. During the course of production, one actress contracted pneumonia twice and an actor nearly drowned. How ironic! Even a controlled simulation about a small group of survivors stranded in a small boat can be risky business. How realistic! Wouldn’t it be great if in the end, you, like filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, had a masterpiece to show for all your trouble?

Here’s another bit of ironic reality. Most of us are grateful to be gainfully employed, especially in this turbulent economy. Yet many of us feel stuck, trapped like people on a lifeboat with a motley crew of strangers with whom we must somehow manage to get along, because our livelihoods, if not our lives, depend on it.

Office politics, the corporate hierarchy and the backstabbing tactics of executive aspirants can make the waters choppy, even treacherous. At times just keeping your head above water is the biggest goal you feel you can achieve. But, as the New Year is rung in and the waters calm (soothed by the camaraderie of the Karaoke bar and the office punch bowl), this might be the perfect time for you to stop and rethink your place on this great ship of state.

It’s easy to let the treatment of other people make you forget why you’re really there. What are you anyway, a cabin boy? A stoker in the boiler room? Is that how you feel or is that just how everyone seems to treat you? Your managers certainly have the latitude to redefine your role, but you can’t let them define who you are – especially not to yourself.

Consider what steps you can take during the upcoming New Year to make yourself more of an asset at work and more valuable in your own eyes. That’s right. No one’s evaluation is more important than your own.

What major professional milestone have you hit? Did you celebrate or did you just show up for work the next day? Stop for a moment and appreciate where you were this time last year and where you are today. Give yourself permission to be grateful and proud.

If you’re not where you hoped you’d be, forgive yourself. Stop for a moment and appreciate the fact that you did your best, then think about how you can get “there” from where you are right now.

Professional milestones should also be stepping stones to personal growth. Plan carefully so you don’t set yourself up to fail. Nor should you set yourself up to “succeed no matter what,” because the personal cost and emotional toll probably won’t be worth it.

Author's Bio: 

Rob Jackson is a member of the National Speaker's Association and has served as President and Chairman on several Executive Leadership boards.

In addition to being a Certified DiSC Trainer, Rob has logged hundreds of instructional classroom hours. He is the author of Campfire Leadership, which explores effective leadership from a personality perspective.

As President of Magnovo Training Group, Rob's goal is to inspire significant positive change in communities and companies. For more information, please visit