I just hit my 5-year anniversary. Ah! I’ve spent five years working in the dairy industry, focusing on building my marketing and communications career and skillset. It’s been full of your typical highs and lows, but there are five major lessons that I’m going to share with you. For anyone who is interested in my endless 27 year old wisdom, that is.
- Be coachable. This is HUGE ADVICE. Don’t tell my dad, but I stole the “be coachable” line from him. While this is from a high school basketball game, it can be applied to almost any situation. You need to be able to take criticism without getting offended. Don’t take it as a personal attack! More often than not, it is coming from a place of positive intent. If you disagree with feedback, that’s ok, too! Just discuss your opinion in a non-condescending or passive aggressive way so that everyone understands. This is a two-way street!
- Be real with yourself. I have finally come to terms with the reality of “You can be amazing at a few things or average at a lot of things.” I’m not sure if that’s an actual quote, but you get what I’m saying. Here’s how you can be real with yourself: As you grow and develop, find a focus and passion that you have. Ask yourself, “What am I really good at in this role, that I also enjoy doing?” This self awareness will allow you to be a better team contributor, if you’re putting energy and effort towards your answer. There is only so much time in a day, and we all have to spend it wisely.
- Growth and leadership isn’t always upwards. Becoming a leader or getting a promotion doesn’t always mean getting a more important title. It actually might not come with an on paper promotion for a while. You are a leader to someone at all times, and upward growth could start with more responsibilities and influence in a horizontal direction.
- Don’t make work your life. Work should be exciting and fulfilling, but it shouldn’t be your whole world. What are your other priorities and hobbies? Family, friends, your kids, volunteering in the community, training for a big race? Realizing what else is truly important in life will help you put ‘work projects’ back into perspective, and might even make you stress less!
- You’ve gotta do the dirty work first. The attitude of ‘I’m too good for this’ or ‘I don’t have time for this’ when you’re first starting off is very dangerous. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it’s sometimes toxic. All tasks, even the small (and sometimes annoying) ones, have an impact on the success of a business. If you can show your energy and commitment to the things that need to be done, but no one wants to do, you begin earning the trust of the people above you. Trust earns you a spot on the big-time, fun and ‘cool’ projects.
Bonus tip (because having a #6 ruined my title): Find your people and have fun. Very corny, very true. A team makes all the difference. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing… there will be crappy, awful days. Make it a priority to build your tribe of supporters and people you enjoy being around. For Pete’s sake, you’ll spend enough time with them and at work, it better not suck!
That’s all for now… This is what keeps me confident and dreaming bigger. Check back in after another five years, and we’ll see how I’m feeling!