40 career lessons I learned by 40
Throughout your career you are going to learn a lot of lessons. Because I’m feeling reflective today, I thought I’d share some of the ones I’ve learned myself thus far. So, if you haven’t learned all these yet, hey, maybe I can save you some trouble.
I guess I’m feeling generous.
Here are 40 career lessons I learned by 40
1. Bring value. That’s all that matters. If your value outweighs the negatives, you will be fine. When it doesn’t, you are dead weight and will be cut loose.
2. It’s not about you. At least not to anyone but you. Everyone is the protagonist in their own story.
3. Don’t take anything personally. Everyone has their own reasons for doing things that have nothing to do with you, even when it affects you or hurts you.
4. Pick your battles. You don’t have to fight about everything, even when you know you’re right. People will just think you’re a jerk who likes to fight about stuff and will stop listening to you. Fight for the things that really matter.
5. Sometimes it’s best just to shut your face. Before you say anything, ask yourself if it really needs to be said. More often than you expect, the answer will be no.
6. Everyone is winging it. Some of us have more education, experience, and training, but at the heart of it, we’re all playing the same guessing game.
7. It is all about who you know. The majority of jobs are gotten through recommendations. You won’t get anywhere unless people know and like you.
8. So, be nice. Always be nice. Also, you never know what someone else is going through.
9. And make friends. Go out of your way to make friends at work. These are the people who will have your back.
10. But trust no one. Be on your guard, because you also never know who’s going to throw you under the bus.
11. Don’t gossip. It makes you look like an a**hole. Also, it will probably get back to the subject. (See also: trust no one.)
12. Don’t complain. I love to complain. But people HATE complainers. It creates a negative environment or something. So, don’t complain. (I hate not complaining.)
13. Some people just suck. People will do mean, nasty, thoughtless things and there is nothing you can do about it.
14. So, you might as well just shrug it off. There’s no point in getting worked up about it, unless its bullying or something that is actually worth standing up against, in which case, go nuts and…
15. Stand up for what is right. Not when you think you are right but when something is the right thing to do. Have the wisdom to know the difference. Still…
16. Justice will often take care of itself. Not always, but often. If someone is terrible, the odds are good it will eventually come back to them. A lot of the time you can just sit back and wait for it.
17. Take direction graciously. Even from someone you dislike or when you disagree with the action. Often the problem is your ego. Sometimes you need to challenge the directions, other times you just need to do what you’re told (see also: pick your battles).
18. It IS your job. The phrase “that’s not my job” is a career killer. Treat everything that needs doing and that you are capable of doing like it’s your job. It’s what separates the adults from the children.
19. If it’s worth doing by anyone, it’s worth doing by you. Your superiority to the person cleaning the toilet is all in your own mind. Get over yourself.
20. What you do matters. You’re going to spend at least a third of your life at work. Make sure it’s something you enjoy doing – even better if it makes the world a better place (if you care about that sort of thing).
21. Buy the coffee. Doing small favours for people makes them feel disproportionately indebted to you, according to research. Do as many small favours as possible and you’re more likely to get a big one in return. (Insert evil laughter here).
22. You are expendable. I’ve seen people win huge company awards and get laid off two months later.
23. Listen. Actually listen to what other people are saying instead of waiting for your turn to talk.
24. Pay attention. Pay attention to what is happening around you. That way nothing will catch you off guard, like ninjas or zombies.
25. Be punctual. It’s rude to make people wait for you.
26. But if you can’t be punctual, make up for it by working harder or being better than everyone else. Some people just have a really hard time being on time.
27. S/he who gets mad first loses. Always keep your cool. You are vulnerable when you are angry.
28. Shower, wear deodorant, and visit the dentist. There is one smelly person in every workplace. Nobody ever thinks it’s them.
29. Be careful about what you share. People don’t want or need to know everything about you. We all have secrets that should stay secrets.
30. Don’t crap on people’s ideas. No matter how stupid, ridiculous, and idiotic those ideas might be, always say “That’s interesting…” before moving on to something else.
31. If someone says “That’s interesting,” they think your idea is stupid.
32. Go the extra mile. Nobody ever achieved success by doing the bare minimum. Go above and beyond and you will be rewarded in one way or another.
33. Everything is its own reward. Just do good work and that will pay for itself. Don’t worry about what it will get you.
34. So, mind your own business. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does. Mow your own lawn and forget about the neighbours’.
35. Try to do it yourself before asking for help. If you bug people with questions about things you could just Google and learn yourself, you will drive them crazy and they will want to smack you (I swear to GOD…).
36. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Never go back on your word. It erodes people’s trust in you.
37. Underpromise and over deliver. A good trick is to promise less than you know you can do. Your results will be extra impressive.
38. Never betray anyone’s trust. I almost forgot this one! Keep other people’s secrets as well as your own, and don’t share information that was given to you in confidence.
39. Don’t get super wasted with your coworkers. Even if they’re all total boozehounds, don’t get drunk to the point where you’re saying things you will regret as soon as you are reminded of them later.
40. Always be learning. Technology is changing everything. Whatever your job is, it will probably be a very different job 5 or 10 years from now. I used to be a journalist – for a newspaper! If you don’t keep up you will be left behind. Keep up.
What career lessons have you learned?