More often than not, we find ourselves starting off where we don’t necessarily want to be long term. You can look at that as a setback, but that would be unfortunate. Instead, look at it as training ground for your future. Most people aren’t handed what they dream of on a silver plater. You can either resent that or just become grateful that you can earn your keep and develop into a better person/employee. I know I have a lot more to discover as an employee but there are a few things I’ve picked up along the way that I feel are irreplaceable principles that can grow your career.
1. Never despise the start
There is something to be learned through menial tasks and grunt work. When I think of my “starts” I remember how I had to enter patient data into programs at the chiropractic office I was employed at. After being behind the computer for months, they trusted me with the heat and stim machine (scary).
How could I ever forget aligning hangers, one finger space apart or refolding shirts that were tossed into a hot mess 2 minutes before closing. “Hey there, welcome to Express. Can I help you find anything today?” Did I love this at first? No, because I was intimidated! But, I learned along the way that presentation matters, that customer service is key to happy people and growing sales and how to address conflict creatively. “Ma’am, would you like to try on a pair of pants with the four shirts you just stuffed in your coat?” AKA- I can’t confront you off the bat for stealing in front of me. “Excuse me sir, our policy is one person in the fitting room at a time.” AKA- Get out of the fitting room with your girlfriend. Yes, AWKWARD!
These and others were all building blocks: workplace experience, the importance of a healthy culture and office management. Stamping first time guest cards at Church Unleashed as an intern led to handling admin operations, to leading volunteers, to leading staff meetings, to working hand and hand with Pastors Todd and Mary. We often want to skip the small stuff but it often lays the foundation for our future.
2. Whatever you touch, give it all you got and then some.
Every task that you are given, complete it with excellence. When you set the standard of excellence, people notice. They take notice of a job well done but they also take notice of your talents and skills. We talk about wanting favor and we want promotions but part of that is positioning ourselves for increase. Make room and do things that will bring about that result. Let your successes snowball you into taking on more responsibilities.
Put some motion behind your self motivation and leave things better than the way you found them. In the words of Paul McCartney, “take a sad song and make it better” and if it’s not sad, make it better too! If you see something that can be done more efficiently, if you discover a new way to run a program, if you find a service that would better the company- do something about it! Don’t be a drone. If you have meaningful input, share it. Don’t just skate away doing the bare minimum or simply maintain. Grasp the vision, mission, purpose and goal your place of employment has. Purposely contribute what you have to offer. Find the holes and patch them up. Take that new employee under your wing and help guide them. Enhance the systems and people around you. Go above and beyond.
3. Stick with it and be resilient.
Learn and outlast the conflict, troubles and difficulties. When you are given the responsibility of a new role there is always a learning curve. There will be moments where you will fail or try something new that didn’t pan out the way you thought. Learn and outlast. Statistics recently have shown that those who are successful and smart in life weren’t born with the superlatives of most “successful” and “smart.” What they do have is undeniable grit that drives them to get up and give it another go every time they fall. Some people throw in the towel too soon. It’s usually right after those moments, a breakthrough happens. They never enjoy that breakthrough because they didn’t hang on. Be resilient. Work hard, be confident and continue to learn and grow through the process.