How to avoid fastballs aimed at your head

Have you seen Field of Dreams?

In the film, Archie Graham (played by Frank Whaley) is a young baseball player whom Kevin Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, picks up on the side of the road (after having met the 72-year-old version of him the previous day). The kid is super-anxious to play ball.

And once Archie’s at the field, he’s mesmerized by the legends he’s playing with — at least for a spell.

The problem is, once he’s at-bat, that awe transforms into a bit too much swagger, as he winks at the pitcher before he delivers the pitch. The result? Archie gets a fastball headed straight for his ear, which he narrowly dodges.

Demeanor, babe.

Sloppy dress. Rolled eyes. Slouched posture. Fidgetiness. Over-casual attire. Unwarranted cockiness. A ho-hum manner about you. Having a “realist’s” response to everyone else’s opinions and ideas. Constantly regaling others with stories highlighting your own cleverness, superior intellect, refined skillset, decisive judgment, or breathtaking achievements.

These are just a few of the ways your demeanor can undermine you. Memo: No one has time for it. And, brother, it can derail your career.

While you may feel you’re all dialed-in with killer sales numbers, or stunning graphic design chops, or stellar results in managing the supply chain, people can’t stand these other, less welcomed contributions you make.

Demeanor matters. It’s more than attitude. And it’s not simply your level of self-confidence. It’s who you are and how you conduct yourself, with or without achievements, and whether or not you agree with whatever anyone else says or does.

It’s important to believe in yourself. It’s crucial to have a track record. But seriously…

My advice to you is this: Life will throw you enough curveballs as it is. The best way to avoid fastballs aimed purposely at your head, however, possibly even thrown by your own co-workers, is to check that demeanor.

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