There’s no way around it; the truth is, we learn through our past experiences, including our mistakes. This is especially true in the workplace, where very few individuals gain higher ranking positions within their companies without having made a few missteps along the way.
However, from each mistake we make, we have the opportunity to learn something valuable. Unfortunately, we often forget to notice some of the lessons to be gained, not only from our failures, but also through some of the common external obstacles and complications we encounter along the paths of our careers.
With this in mind, it’s wise to refresh our memories in reference to some of the more commonly disregarded, or overlooked, lessons that will actually aid us throughout the remainder of our professional lives.
1. Mistakes are inevitable.
Although we’d rather not admit it, we never stop making mistakes in life; and the same holds true for our careers. Regardless of whether you are just starting out or if you’re the CEO of a company, the time will come when you are involved in even the most minor inaccuracy or slip-up. However, take note that this certainly does not mean you are destined for an ongoing pattern of failure. It just means that you are human, and try as we might to avoid, mistakes are an inevitable fact of life. As the legendary Henry Ford famously stated, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently”.
2. Success is not an overnight journey.
No matter how successful you are or how hard you try, for the majority of us, achieving ultimate success is most definitely not an instantaneous achievement. It takes a great deal of time, effort, and dedication to reach your goals; and even when we do, there is always room for further growth. Unfortunately, so many of us overlook this fact, even becoming despondent and discouraged if we do not reach our objectives within a predetermined time-frame. Remember, anything worthwhile takes time, hard work, as well as a pure dedication toward your goal. According to Mylan CEO, Heather Bresch, “There is simply no substitute for hard work when it comes to achieving success”.
3. Managers are not mind readers.
The worst thing for aspiring professional leaders to do is to sit idly and wait for something great to happen. For instance, if you feel you deserve a raise or promotion, you may have to ask for it when the time is right. However, when you do, be prepared to explain why you feel you deserve it. Demanding extra compensation simply because you’ve been with the company for a year, for example, is never a good idea. Rather, explain what you’ve done to make improvements to your department or the company as a whole (if you can provide samples of your work, even better), highlight your commitment, accomplishments, and anything else that will spotlight your professional growth and worth to the company.
4. Continued education is always an option.
Even if you’ve obtained the position you’ve always wanted, you should still continue to educate yourself. With technology growing at such a rapid pace, it seems there is always something new to learn. It is important, not only for the company, but also for your own professional growth, to keep current on new and improved technology, business practices, as well as remaining in the know on your own company’s newest operations and chief competitors. Educationally speaking, if returning to school and earning a brand new degree is not a realistic option for you, there are many online certifications, tutorials, and seminars that will enrich your existing knowledge, and simultaneously show your superiors how serious you are about becoming — and remaining — a valuable member of the organization.
5. Balance your professional and personal life.
Have you ever heard the phrase “keep your work at work and your personal life at home”? Yet, if you’ve been a member of the workforce long enough, then you know this isn’t always entirely possible. During our workweek, we spend the majority of our waking hours at our jobs, and keeping the two mutually exclusive is not always completely achievable. After a particularly stressful day or week, many find it difficult to decompress and truly enjoy their time with family and friends, outside of the workplace. The same holds true when the concerns and issues of our personal lives become entwined with our professional lives, making it difficult to fully concentrate at work. This SC&C Work/Life Balance Quiz can offer a first step for employees to assess their current equilibrium, and make any necessary changes, going forward.
As our lives and careers continue to progress, it is important to keep these important lessons in mind. Sometimes it’s the smallest, or even most obvious, lessons that are frequently neglected. Nevertheless, their value holds true — not just during a temporary professional crisis — but well throughout our lives.
Further Reading: Valuable Career Advice From Influential Executives
Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200