EXPRESSIONS/ Building Successful Career/ Aug-Sep 2020
By Mr. Abhishek Goswami
The Nine Lessons
Every one of us who has worked in the corporate world has many experiences and stories to share about their successful journeys. Some would have risen to the top of the corporate ladder; some are working their way up still, while the rest have just started. While the personal experiences of each one of us can and do vary a great deal, depending on the organisation culture, the people you meet and the job profile you do, there are quite a few common experiences we all share. While talking to a few colleagues from the past, I realized there is much in common in those experiences. Also, the year 2020 is a landmark year in all our lives. COVID 19 has given us many important life lessons and forced us to rethink about many things which we considered as necessary earlier. It has altered many life perspectives and given us a new approach towards life and the value we attach to common things.
This article is an amalgamation of many of my personal experiences in my 18 year corporate journey. Not all of those happened to me personally, but certainly in my immediate circle for sure, where I was a witness to it. I have also tried to blend a few life lessons I learnt during this COVID 19 pandemic in this article as well. So here are the 9lessons I learnt from my 18 year corporate journey:
1. Only 10% of the people you meet in your current organisation may continue to be in touch with you even after you leave that organisation. Those people may be your true well-wishers/friends/buddies, whatever you want to call them. The remaining 90% of the folks are neither your friends nor enemies. All of us are interested in saving our current jobs and no one is working in the office to make friends. If you happen to make friends at office, you are lucky. Cherish their bonding and forget the rest.
2. Many people, especially at the top of the ladder, have to make a few decisions which will be tough for a few of us, at a professional and a personal level. Realize that they are making those decisions keeping in mind the best interests of the organization, which may or may not be in our best interests. It is incredibly tough to accept those decisions at that moment and even after a few months as well. But ultimately, we realize that those decision makers are also pawns at the hands of someone bigger than them. Something better is always in front of us, not behind us. Accept the change and move on
3. When you are doing well in your present job and receiving accolades for the same, a new leader can come and pick you up for a new project. Accept it and experience the new challenge. However, after some time, when the project gets over or you are not in the limelight, the same leader can throw you back into the same old routine and pick someone else for another project. It will be quite shocking for us to be ignored by them and left to do the same old job. These things happen quite frequently and bother us a lot. Hopefully we have picked up something new from that project (a new tool, a new methodology, a new model etc.) which can add value in our present and future jobs. Hold on to that learning and keep looking for avenues to leverage that.
4. You will meet many brilliant and intelligent people in the office. Some of them have a better communication style, some of them analyse a problem faster and some of them have better ideas to solve a problem. Try to mingle with those people more and learn from them. It is not necessary that those people will be higher in career level than you. You will be surprised how much you can learn from your peers and juniors, in fact more than your leaders. In the process, you may also find that they learn something from you as well. Be open to share your knowledge with them. A lot can be learnt from these interactions which are invaluable in the long term.
5. Conversely, you will meet many stupid people in the office as well. By stupid, I don’t mean those who have lesser IQ or knowledge than you. I mean those people who do not have a sense of time, place, words and normal decency while interacting with others. Try avoiding them as much as you can. These people have a strange and strong power to influence you negatively. Be careful of how you engage with them and keep the interactions to the minimum, as per the requirement of the job.
6. There will always be a significant section of the employees whom you will see meeting up with the top leaders and flocking around them, most of the times. Some of them may be genuinely interested to get newer assignments/projects and enhancing their careers. However, a majority of them do that to create a favourable impression upon the leaders and agree to every word they speak. If agreeing to everyone in the office is your forte, go ahead and indulge in the game. However, it may not help in the long term as having an individual point of view, may be different from others is very important in the office as well as in life in general. To articulate and present your point of view to the people is a skill and is a hallmark of a good leader. If two people agree on everything, then one of them is a waste. Conversely, if two people disagree on everything, then clearly something is wrong. To agree to disagree and still continue working towards the same goal is critical in a team environment.
7. Be aware and beware of the sweet talkers. These people will always behave gently and get their work done by you, often taking the whole credit for the work you would have done. Learn to identify these people as early as possible (it takes time but ultimately you learn to do that)! Being nice is good but not at the cost of being used by others. Learn to say “No” to people, but in a proper and rational manner. You don’t have to be rude to others, just as these people are not rude to you. As they say, be gentle but firm!
8. When your work seems very comfortable, the stakeholders are always satisfied with your work and you are on top of your game, quite strangely, the downfall starts to happen from there. If you have not learnt any new skill/methodology/best practice for a year and the tenure is getting longer in that organisation, you are standing on the brink of disaster. Learn to move across teams at the right moment, more diverse from your current role, the better. It is always good to be working at things which are just above your current role rather than doing the same thing over and over.
9. Your job is just a part of your life. Ultimately, there is much more to your life than just plain work. Your family, friends and community have much more to offer to you than your job. And you also have lot of things to contribute other than work. Recognise what you are good at apart from work and indulge in it. Sometimes slowing down the pace of life is very good. You will learn to appreciate the nature around you. You will learn to respect the variety of people working in the society who help you to keep your life sane and normal. Put in some time for your old hobby and you will feel much relaxed than before. Things change nowadays in a moment and you never know what the future has in hold for us. Learn to live in the present and relax. Making far too many plans for the future does not help either.
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