Three Words About Your Future: Responsible, Respectful and Realistic

Personal BrandingSkill DevelopmentWorkplace Success

Incoming freshmen. Heed these words.


Career, Contacts and Optics. More on these later, but keep in mind that the way you handle yourself will define your current and future success.

Of course, this likely does not come as a surprise to most people.

I had the privilege and pleasure of dropping off our son at college this week. It got me to thinking about a few words that might help him and perhaps you too. The more I thought about it I realized these are words that can help anyone and I wanted to share them with you here.

Whether you are an incoming freshmen, dropping off your own incoming freshmen or farther along in your career I think these words can help you realize what’s at stake and react accordingly.

Responsible, Respectful and Realistic

These are three simple words that can help define your college career and will carry over to your working career too. You’ve done the hard work to get into college. That’s a responsibility. The skills you developed to get into college will also help you earn your first job. Now you can continue to hone your skills to make respectful and realistic decisions.

While You Are Here

What can you do while you are in college? Hopefully some of these skills started long before entering college life, but if they haven’t it’s not too late. You can develop skills in college that will directly help you during your time in college. These skills can also be directly applied to your first job and beyond. As you begin to do these consistently they will become habits.

College is as good a time as any to start creating habits. College is a great time to create habits that impact the rest of your life.

A Bit More on The Three Words

  • Responsible – There is a lot to be responsible for in college. Just as there is a lot to be responsible for in your first job or your tenth job. I don’t want to be a broken record here, but taking your role in college seriously is important. Someone is spending a lot of money on your education. That someone might be you, it might be the university, or it might be your parents. It’s your responsibility to do everything you can to learn. The beauty of going to college is that you are often on your own for the first time. You have both the privilege and responsibility of taking care of business. This same process applies when you graduate and take on your first career role.
  • Respectful – There will be a plethora of new things coming your way at 1000 miles an hour. Think about responding and reacting in a respectful manner. There is an old saying about “not doing anything your mother (or grandmother) would disapprove of” – this is as true in college as it is in business. Remember it. Heed it.
  • Realistic – Everything may not happen the way you envisioned it. And that’s ok. Take a step back and and think about how you can evaluate or re-evaluate the situation. Something I mentioned to my daughter a few weeks ago can be applied here. We were in the middle of a lot of tough decisions and it was stressful. I said “As long as we are still breathing we have options” and I firmly believe this. It may not turn out like how we want, but we can choose to keep moving forward.

Career, Contacts and Optics

When you keep your responsibility in perspective the people you meet will remember. When you keep confidences the people you work with will develop a mutual level of respect. And when you consistently perform (or better yet excel) at tasks and assignments people will begin to trust that you set realistic goals and expectations.

All of which will help you Stand Out in Your Career. Some of the people you meet in college will be with you for a long time and you with them. As you grow in your career the contacts you make in college will have a significant long term impact. Take care of them in a Responsible, Respectful and Realistic manner and they will likely take care of you too.