It was a rainy Tuesday, 2nd of November 2010. Exactly 7 years ago, I joined my current company. It was my first full-time job after graduation and let’s be honest here, it was not my dream job. But, I should not complain, I thought, at least I have a job, right? The unemployment rate in Poland in 2010 was almost 10% and well… I didn’t have a sexy degree. I had a masters in political science and bachelor in Spanish. BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) business was booming and I decided to take the chance. It wasn’t the best moment to be picky. So I signed my contact saying to myself “This is temporary. I will find something else soon.” It turned out that soon looks like more than 7 years. And it wasn’t because I didn’t try.
Anniversaries or big milestones always encourage some sort of reflection. So here are my 7 biggest learnings from the past 7 years:
- One employer doesn’t mean one job/role.
Within the last 7 years I had a chance to work in 4 different positions (feel free to check my LinkedIn profile if you are interested). Working for a multinational company gives many interesting opportunities. Your role, as an employee, is to take the ownership and ask yourself: Is my current role interesting? Do I enjoy it? Do I develop myself? Do I want to change something?
- If I don’t ask I will never know the answer.
I think this is the plague of 21st century. Seriously! We constantly assume things instead of trying this crazy method called ASKING QUESTIONS. This method is for free. You don’t have to take an expensive certification training to start practicing it. Just start doing it. Unless you are afraid of getting what you want… Perhaps you have heard the famous curse “I wish you get everything you want” (A.K.A — be careful what you wish).
- I am responsible for my development.
Big companies offer fancy training platforms and career development paths. Yes, this is true. However, try to think differently. If someone would give you Beyoncé shoes and a microphone would you be able to sing like her? I wouldn’t! This applies to career development as well. You need to find your passion and follow it. It’s not easy. It took me over 5 years to find my sweet spot. It takes time to find your passion. For most people, passion comes after they try things, check if they like them or not and if yes, continue mastering. Recently, I’ve read a great book about “Designing your Life” by Bill Burnett and Gave Evens. I strongly recommend this book.
- Always look for people with the power to say “YES”.
Very often during last 7 years I felt powerless. I was thinking “Who am I in this big corporate machine that hires over 400 000 people?” or “I am not a big boss here, my opinion doesn’t matter”. If you are reading this text and you had experienced that feeling you know how horrible it is. Although, I don’t have a magic pill to take this feeling away, I do have a lesson learned that can help. If you have an idea (individual or perhaps something that you generated together with your team), you need to play smart from the very beginning. Corporate world is full of people who were empowered to say “NO”. If you want to move your idea forward it is critical for you (and your team) to identify someone with the power to say “Yes, let try this”.
- Comfort zone is a no zone.
Do you want to make an impact? Do you want to challenge the status quo? Do you want to be recognized? If yes, there is one more question that you need to ask yourself. Am I in my comfort zone? If the answer is yes, I have a bad news for you. Most probably you won’t make an impact or change the status quo, which means that you won’t be recognized either. I won’t lie to you. There were times when I really preferred to stay in my comfort zone (personal reason, seasonal depression, whatever — you name it) and I think it isn’t that bad (for a moment). However, if you answered yes to my initial questions, you should plan your time for staying in the comfort zone and make sure that you push yourself to constantly go beyond it.
- Empathy — you can learn it.
Yes, empathy. This is not a mistake. I realized the importance of it pretty late, but I’ve been fully dedicated to developing my levels of empathy in my work environment even since. I noticed that it helps me to collaborate better and I am less stressed. When you try to step into other people shoes and you make an effort to look at the world/situation from their perspective, it will really help you to judge the moment better.
- People, people, people.
This point is strongly connected with the point 6. There is no business without people. If you work in business, most probably you are familiar with these abbreviation B2B (Business-to-Business) and B2C (Business-to-Customer). Nowadays, we hear and read more often a new abbreviation H2H (Human-to-Human). Hell yeah! Eventually behind each business there is a human being. However, before we think about the end of the business pyramid let’s commit to remember about our colleagues and peers. The inclusion starts with “I” (my work colleagues will recognize this statement 😊).
Last 7 years were great!
Let me know if you would like me to dig deeper into any of my points mentioned above. Share your thoughts. Remember, sharing is caring.