A guest post from Ashley Pero.
“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” -Margaret Wheatley
As we move through our careers, we go from being the one asking all the questions to being someone that has a few answers. As we get older (and, hopefully wiser) we are sometimes asked what we’ve learned, especially it seems as graduation time approaches again. Today, I’m sharing a few of the lessons I have learned.
Be kind and delightful. If you spent much time at one of the organizations I worked for you likely heard, “Will that delight?” It was cultural value to satisfy and delight and we strived to live it every day. It’s not to say that the “customer is always right,” but it does mean that you can be kind when you tell someone they aren’t going to get their way. It’s not always easy to be kind, but the extra effort is always worth it and it really makes a difference to the people you interact with (family and colleagues). Make it a habit to practice kindness and delight others. I guarantee you won’t regret it and people won’t forget that you make them feel special.
Connect often. I’ve had to privilege of meeting some amazing people throughout my career. I can also confirm that what you hear is true, a strong network is important. It’s good for your well-being to have colleagues and friends that you can call for advice or talk through ideas. And using your connections and relationships to help others (connecting your connections, if you will) makes you feel good. It’s easy to neglect those relationships, but it’s also easy to keep them alive and well. A quick coffee before work, an email with an article that would be helpful for them, a quick call to see how things are – those small gestures (that more often than not shouldn’t be about you) build relationships, and connections matter.
Seek knowledge. Knowledge comes in many forms – formal training, coaching, mentoring, experiences, volunteering, reading – and all of them should have a valued place of importance in your life. Learning keeps you sharp, allows you to contribute in meaningful ways, makes you a trusted resource, and pushes you to grow. An investment in yourself is one of the surest investments you can make. Even if the only investment you can afford to make right now is the time to stay current on your favorite news sources and blog resources, you’re worth it.
Turn it off. We all need time to recharge and disconnect (yes even you). That vacation time you’ve earned but have been saving (read: not using) needs to be used. Not just for you, but for your organization and your family. Your organization deserves a refreshed, clear-thinking version of you. Your family deserves a fully present, not work-consumed version of you. There isn’t a magic number of days to get away, you have to figure out what’s right for you. Never feel bad for taking a break from work or turning off your phone. It will all still be waiting for you when you get back and you’ll have a clear mind to tackle it.
What lessons do you share most often when asked?