The thirties. Depending upon the person, it can be a feared number or merely just another number with no particular significance. When that day came to pass for me, it was nothing more than a number, but little did I know that this turning point would bring such wondrous changes.
My twenties, to put it mildly, were a time of chaos and upsets. A few of those tumultuous events included quitting college, two marriages, two divorces and feeling lost and unsure where to turn to in my attempts to regain some order in my life. My twenties sound like a blast — do they not? I believe that maybe the reason the 30 mark wasn’t something to be feared but was, in fact, something to be embraced because I was finally able to start reaping the rewards of my twenties and all the screw ups that accompanied them.
I was now able to see a “don’t even think about it moment” before I had to suffer the repercussions of the horrendous blunder. It’s true what they say that hindsight is 20/20 but having perfect sight makes little difference if one doesn’t open up their eyes to make use of the clearer vision. At the ripe age of 32 I am not going to pretend that I have all the answers and I’ve learned it all — in fact at this ripe old age I can comfortably say “I don’t know” because that phrase means there is room for growth and challenges to be met.
Below are some points of what I’ve learned thus far in the work force and am anxious to see what changes and/or additions will accompany this list by the time I hit the next milestone — the big 4-0.
• Ask questions: If something doesn’t look right or feel right — trust that instinct. Even if you are told by one person that the something in question is correct, don’t necessarily take their word for it because they may have been misinformed themselves without realizing it. While it may be more than a little difficult to search for the right answer and pass that information on, it is still a far better alternative than to continue to work with incorrect information.
• Paper doesn’t always equal reality: Sometimes it is impossible to know exactly how something will work out – despite how good it looks on paper. Too often actuality does not equal to the original concepts.
• Don’t be afraid to think outside the box: Don’t be afraid to think differently and to try something new. Too often people who have been with one company and/or one position develop something I call “stale eyes”. Stale eyes is the condition where you know longer see the potential to try something new or go about doing something a different way. It’s amazing what a pair of fresh eyes can see in a current system and what ideas they may bring forth. Sometimes the status quo is no longer the most effective or efficient means to accomplish a goal and there requires a change-up of sorts. Don’t be afraid to implement those change-ups.
• Work in every area: Don’t be confined by your job title or your office. Get out and learn the different aspects of a business. Not only will your employer see and appreciate your motivation to learn above and beyond your essential job function, but you will also have a better understanding of what happens and why it happens in the matter it does. This can sometimes lead to you having the fresh eyes in a situation and suggest a possible improvement in the current methods. If nothing else, the mere fact that the “right hand works better when it knows what the left hand is doing” is a benefit in itself.
• Take it or make it: If there are potential opportunities that come your way – grab from them. It can be scary at first – but the outcome is oftentimes worth any potential risk. Don’t have any opportunities coming your way? Make them. Make yourself available when needed, take the initiative when you see something is going awry but there are not steps being utilized to fix it. The feeling of self-satisfaction accompanied by the employer seeing your ability to be pro-active is often just the beginning of the rewards and opportunities to come.
• Don’t be selfish: Don’t think merely in terms of how an action on your part will benefit you via promotion or raises. Think of the company and its well-being. Do you see an important but neglected project that is vital to the company – volunteer your time, skill and services to attack it. This may or may not lead to instant gratification, but I can assure you that your employer will take note of what you have done. What if your supervisor is too other-wise occupied to see what you have done? Don’t be afraid to tell him – but don’t be a showboat about it. Tell him. Show him. Explain the importance of it to him if need be – then drop it. Overkill will indeed kill whatever points you may have earned.
• Give and take: Learn to give to the company — whether it is your time or skills — and you will be rewarded. A relationship with an employer is not so much different than a personal relationship between couples. There will be times that more is asked of you than you may have intended to give – but do so anyways. Do not be afraid to ask for the things that you need in return. Often if an employer sees you have the ability to give more than what is merely stated in your job title he will be more willing to give back to you when the time comes.
• Help others: This not just applies to the customers but also to your co-workers. If you possess the skills that a co-worker does not have but would like to learn — teach them. Helping a co-worker learn a new skill can only produce good results for not only the company but the moral of the work environment. No one likes a know-it-all, much less a know-it-all who refuses to share their knowledge. Offer to teach and be willing to help. Some employees may feel that their unique skills are their job security and sharing those skills may hurt that security, but they couldn’t be more wrong. An employee who works under those assumptions is not one to be considered a team-player and that can only hurt any career opportunities that may come your way. One must also not forget that no one is irreplaceable.
• What job description?: What is your job title and description? Take it, acknowledge it, and (most importantly) perform it, then toss it. Don’t be anchored down with the mindset that it’s not your job — so it’s not your problem. Help where help is needed.