Saturday, December 09, 2006

Self-imposed Limit

After a long day of work or extraordinary effort, it's nice to come home, kick up your feet and enjoy a cold beer or two. In a networking environment, however, it's better not to get too comfortable with drinking. Given the countless receptions and other networking opportunities during the first month in Austin, there may likely be plenty of opportunities to have a drink or ten. I am going to impose a one drink limit per night on myself for these events; I suggest you do the same. This is based on several reasons

I've been looking forward at how I will deal with the session once it starts. You can successfully deal with a situation if you visualize yourself in it prior to being in it. This is like athletes visualizing themselves in a competition and all the steps they must take to win. This works like a mental checklist where you just mark off all the steps as you go along. Nothing is a surprise because you've already thought about what you are going to do to deal with problems. Having too much fun at receptions can be detrimental to performance as a Legislative Aide and as a team member. In my visualizations, overindulgence can cause too many complications.

If you drink too much, several things can happen. First, it causes transportation problems. If you've had too much to drink, you are better off not driving. Getting a DWI will cost you money and embarrass your team. If you get a ride home, you'll need a ride to work. Given your meager salary, you're better off keeping as much of your money as possible by driving your sober self.

Second, you will be involved in politics. Alcohol most certainly loosens lips. You may say or reveal something sensitive that can affect your Legislative Team. Why risk it?

Third, drinking too much will affect your performance at work the next day. Not only will you be uncomfortable, you will also be a drag to the rest of your team.

Fourth, your memory does not improve with alcohol. If your purpose is to socialize and meet people, how are you going to keep names straight when you're sloshed? How are you going to remember who works where? What would you have gained at a networking opportunity if you don't remember who you met and what you talked about? Having a clear mind gives you an added advantage.

Finally, you have to keep in mind that some people don't drink at all. They will have more respect for you if you can keep yourself under control. Don't question why they don't drink. Some may have religious reasons, personal preferences, or even a history of alcoholism. It's none of your business. Whatever the reason, they can't take you seriously if you're plastered.

Having said that, I am not advocating teetotaling. Grab a drink and carry it with you. It will prevent interruptions from staff asking if you want a drink. It also gives you something to do with your hands. Of course, having one drink will allow you to be more social without completely compromising your faculties.

As a last point, in contingency planning, if you must have another drink, Go for a Diet Coke or other soft drink. If that's not available, water will be just fine. That's the plan for the session. It benefits me and the team. It maximizes networking opportunities and minimizes potential problems.

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