On being well-liked

I’ve gotta be honest.

I’m not the best technologist. I’m sometimes in over my head, and I frequently resort to Google and reference material when solving problems.

When I used to be employed as an IT Consultant, I wasn’t particularly inspired by the work I was doing. It was a pretty stressful period of time — particularly when there were weekly layoffs within the company — because I didn’t have a real specialization.

To make matters worse, I wasn’t motivated to develop one. The challenges weren’t interesting, the politics were annoying, and the bureaucracy was suffocating. So I definitely would have been a wonderful candidate for termination.

When I transitioned into full-time freelancing, I did web design and development to pay the bills. It eventually turned into consulting, teaching, speaking and exotic dancing on weekends the like, but WordPress work comprised the bulk of my income.

I wasn’t a code maestro, nor was I a particularly enlightened developer. But I took care of people, I gave a damn, and I shipped.

Mostly though, people just liked me.

I’m under no illusions about the quality of some of my work, or the (sometimes awful) project management skills I brought to the table.

The truth is that I avoided being laid off because I was liked by those in a position to put me on the chopping block. The truth is that I never needed to look for work as a freelancer because people liked working with me.

As a matter of fact, I often met people who looked for opportunities and excuses to work with me. I found it humbling and gratifying, if not a bit undeserved.

I say all that to say this: being well-liked helps. It won’t save you if your work is shoddy, or if you’re not consistent, but it helps.

It’s not about schmoozing or being charming, it’s really about just being human.

Willie Jackson is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Consultant & Facilitator with ReadySet, a boutique consulting firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a frequent writer and speaker on the topics of workplace equity, global diversity, and inclusive leadership. Connect on LinkedIn or get in touch.

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