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26 Things I’ve Learned Since Entering The Working World

26 Things I’ve Learned Since Entering The Working World

This list would’ve been extremely helpful for me when I first entered the workforce fresh out of university. There’s just so much I didn’t know, and how could I have? That’s why I created this list. So you will know what I was painfully unaware of.

1. It’s OK to get up and go to the toilet

On my first day of working in an office, I had no idea of the culture or etiquette or anything like that. It was a mystery. This was my first ever “real job”. I was so damn nervous that I’d barely slept the night before. Anyway, I thought I had to ask to go to the toilet. Like I was in school. HOW COULD I HAVE POSSIBLY THOUGHT THAT?! It baffles me now, and breaks my heart a little bit too. In the end I just went for it (that sounds so dramatic) and, of course, no one said anything. In conclusion, yes, you are allowed to go to the toilet. Who’da thought?

2. Think twice before you press “Reply All”

Ah, ‘Reply All’. A handy and deadly function. The amount of times I’ve seen an e-mail that was absolutely not meant for me is ridiculous. Check twice before you press it, because you definitely don’t want to send an email that was meant for your friend to your boss…

3. If you want something, make it happen

About three weeks after I joined the company, I went on a training course called “Personal Effectiveness”. While I was listening to the trainer, I couldn’t help but admire the her. She was confident, knowledgeable, and funny. I realized that I wanted to do what she was doing, run training courses. Now, moving jobs three weeks after I’d joined the company probably wasn’t going to happen, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t plant a seed. I told her I wanted to join her team. She said to keep in touch, so I did. We met up a few times over the coming months, and after about nine months she said she was going to have a vacancy in her team. Because we knew each other, and because she knew I was more than a bit interested, it was a much easier decision than it would’ve been otherwise. As I said, if you want something, you have to make it happen.

4. If you want to talk to an executive, do it

I was due to video one of our executives for an announcement she had to make. We had 30 minutes booked, but it took just 10. I then realized the opportunity I had to sit down with one of our executives and just talk. So I asked and she said yes. We sat down. We talked. And, without it being my intention, she helped me to get a new job. Most people couldn’t believe it when I told this story. Couldn’t believe I had the “balls”. All I could really say to them was “but she’s a person too, right?” If you do this, it will separate you. It will make you “different”. Trust me.

5. If you want to talk to the CEO, do it

Our former CEO was to answer some questions on Yammer, our internal social network. They told us to use a particular hashtag and he’d read them that way. I did that, but there’s also a way, like on Facebook and Twitter, to tag someone so they get a notification. Knowing a huge amount of people would be asking him questions and he wouldn’t see all of them, that’s what I did. I asked four questions, and he answered them all, and even had a bit of banter with me. People said “you actually tagged him?” in hushed tones. Yes, I actually did. As I said before, HE IS A PERSON. LIKE YOU AND ME.

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6. Things change

In three years of work, I’ve had seven managers and four jobs. So, yeah, things change. Roll with it.

7. You can make and have friends at work

I have a few genuine friends that I’ve met at work. Don’t rule it out.

8. There are some incredible people to learn from

I’ve always been more interested in being a leader than a follower. And I think, on occasion, this led to me become somewhat arrogant. Just because you look up to someone and want to learn from them, doesn’t mean you’re a “follower” or that you’ll just do whatever they do. But you can learn something from everyone, whether it be a good or bad lesson. There’s been plenty of people at work who I’ve learned both from.

9. There is a massive amount of incompetency

At least, there’s a lot more than you’d think. And in this lies a huge opportunity for you to stand out. I hope no one from work reads this. But, it is true.

10. Getting promoted is about both performance and who you know

It’s not all about who you know. But, if you had no idea who someone was, would you vouch for them? Would you put yourself on the line for them? Would you hire them?

11. Culture change isn’t for everyone

It seems to be an omnipresent force, but you can’t force people to change. And we shouldn’t.

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12. People complain (and do nothing about it)

Count how many times this happens in just one day and it’ll probably reach double figures. There’s no need to be this person. If you find yourself complaining, do something about it. Eventually, no one cares about the person who doesn’t bother even trying to help themselves.

13. You might not love every single part of your job

This is the case with many people undoubtedly. But the question you have to ask yourself is, “is it worth it?”

14. Enjoying what you do is the most important thing about a job

Your boss is very important. Whoever is in your team is important. Your commute is important. Your salary is important. However, none of these things will matter if you don’t like what you’re doing, because day in and day out, that’s what you actually do.

15. Say “hi” to the cleaners

Again, they’re people. Just like you and me. Most people ignore them, and I’ve certainly been guilty of that. Are we really too busy to say hello? Or is there a deeper, more sinister reason we ignore them? I hope not.

16. You’re not going to be friends with everybody

But it is nice to be able to get along with everyone you work with, even if you’re very different.

17. Don’t be friends with your boss on Facebook

Do you really want your boss to see what you do on a Friday or Saturday night? I’ve never made this mistake, but I know friends who have and I know they’ve regretted it for whatever reason. Always.

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18. Your parents will ALWAYS ask you about your day if you live at home

It’s true. This has happened more times than I can count. Sometimes, it’s nice and I’d want to talk about my day. Sometimes, I just wanted to chill out and not talk to anyone. It can be the most annoying thing in the world. However…if you take just one minute to tell them about your day, it’ll make life easier and better for everyone, rather than telling them to, essentially, shut up. Or, just do what I eventually did and move out.

19. Bring a packed lunch

It’s healthier and saves you money. No brainer.

20. Be proud when you do something well

You’ll achieve a lot more, at least task-wise, when you start work compared to any other time in your life. Day in and day out you’ll complete small and big tasks, and it’s really important to acknowledge that. When I first started, I didn’t acknowledge this at all, and it’s still something I could be better at. I’d only focus on what I’d done “wrong” or where I could improve. Now, I strike a much better balance between being proud of what I’ve done and still focusing on where I could be better. As a result, I’m more productive and I’m happier.

21. Don’t say “yes” to everything

I made this mistake. What did it lead to? Well, it lead to me doing a poor job and having difficult conversations with my manager. Neither of these were pleasant. The reason I said yes to a lot (everything) was because I wanted to do a great job and I wanted to impress people. So, my intentions were good. The results were not. Saying ‘no’ a lot more often is tough at first, but you soon realize that you can then work on just a few things and do a great job with those few things, rather than do an average job on loads of things. I’m sure if you asked someone to do something for you, and they were honest with you and told you they couldn’t do it, that you’d prefer that over them saying they could, and then not delivering.

22. Go to the gym during the day

During the daytime hours, it’s really quiet. If you go at five, be prepared to wait for everything. Or, buy some weights and lift at home. Like I did.

23. Practice public speaking whenever you can

There’s often a lot of opportunity to do some public speaking, even if it’s just in your team meeting. You’ve got to start somewhere. It’s an impressive skill to have, because most people are too scared to do it. And, at some point, you’ll probably have to present a piece of work you’ve been doing, so it’s better to have had some practice. When I first started work, I was uncomfortable speaking in my team meeting which involved about 10 people. Recently, I spoke to an audience of 350 people for 10 minutes. How? Practice and self-esteem. Am I ‘good enough’ to speak to an audience that size? You’re damn right I am. And I know that now. What is it about public speaking that you’re scared of? Are you, too, worried that you’re not ‘good enough’?

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24. Pick up the phone / go speak to someone

Sending an e-mail is the easy way out. Everyone does it. Some people actually send e-mails for urgent issues, too, and I can’t even believe that. If it’s that urgent, surely you’d actually talk to someone or pick up the phone.

Picking up the phone or going to talk to someone face to face will separate you from the crowd. It’s something I’m working on doing more for that exact reason. Also, you just get stuff done quicker. If you send an “urgent” e-mail at 9 a.m., you might not get a reply until that afternoon. Or, at the end of the day. Or, the next day, even. It’s your e-mail that you’ve sent because you want something done. It’s your to-do list, not their’s, so there’s no obligation for them to drop everything they’re doing to help you immediately.

25. Sit with good posture

I didn’t sit with good posture for the first two-and-a-half years of my working life. Well, 90 % of the time I didn’t. That led to back and shoulder problems, neither of which were serious, but they were inconvenient. I sat out of a lot of basketball games and I always felt like I had to stretch in weird positions. It was, more than anything else, really annoying. I went to an osteopath (who was brilliant) and it turned out it was an easy fix: I had to be more conscious with my posture. When I was at my desk I wasn’t sitting up straight, I was leaning forwards, and my computer positioning was rubbish. Altering my posture and my computer positioning, and being conscious of both of these things, has massively improved my posture and I now have much less back and shoulder problems.

26. Be you

When I started doing this, I was more productive, laughed more, had more fun, and was happy. It’s a no brainer, really, trust me. Plus, your company doesn’t need a group of clones. That’s the easy choice and the safer choice and the boring choice. If they say they do, even in a roundabout way, then leave. And, if you don’t really, truly,  know who you are then isn’t it time you found out?

Featured photo credit: Florian Klauer via ununsplash.imgix.net

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

Good things come in twos: Peanut butter and jelly, Day and night, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The same is true for what sparks our creative energy: our thoughts and actions.

Creativity is an inside job as much as it is about a conducive schedule, physical environment, and supportive behaviors. By establishing the right internal and external landscape, creativity can blossom from the abstract to the concrete and we can have fun along the way.

Sparking creativity is all about setting up the right conditions so a spark is ignited and sustained. The sparks don’t fizzle out. They are allowed to grow and ripen.

Think of a garden. Intention alone will not produce the delicious red tomato nor will the readiest seed. That seed needs attention at its nascent stage and as it grows a stalk and produces fruit. If we want to enjoy more than one fruit, we keep at it, cultivating the plant and reaping multiple harvests.

Creativity lives in each of us like seeds in the earth or encapsulated in a nut. Seeds of ideas, concepts, designs, stories, images, and even ways of communicating that surprise and delight await activation.

By sparking our creative energy, we activate these unique seeds. Like snowflakes, they are of a moment and always without a match. The smallest sparks encourage even the smallest, most dormant seeds to sprout.

The good news is that our creative energy wishes to be sparked—to be invited to play. It wants to be our regular playmate.

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1. Be Childlike in Your Thoughts, Attitudes, and Approach

Being childlike in our thoughts, attitudes, and approach is an easy way to internally have our thoughts be gracious prolific gardeners to our creative energy. If we want it to come out and play and hang around as our regular companion, then let’s return to our 5-year-old selves.

Our childhood selves are naturally curious. We still have that curiosity! All we have to do is remind ourselves to get curious. We can do that by simply observing and being with what is in front of us instead of making up a story about what won’t work or why something can’t be done. So, it’s about cultivating curiosity instead of jumping into judgment.

Move Your Inner Judge to the Sidelines

When we get curious, creativity percolates and, ultimately, takes its place in the world. To give a hand in choosing curiosity over judgment, we can move the judge that also lives inside us to the sidelines. The judge squashes our creative urges, even when they are as small as sharing a point of view. It’s that pesky voice that causes us to doubt ourselves or worry about what others will think.

The judge is also risk-averse. The judge likes things to stay the same. Change makes the judge nervous.

Creativity is all about risk and changing things up. It needs risk, even failure, to be its naturally innovative, dynamic, impactful self. The judge likes to convince us failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

To move the judge to the sidelines and let curiosity reign, we can pay attention to who we are in conversation with and who is calling the shots.

Is it the voice of fear, doubt, or anxiety (the inner-critic—the judge’s boss)? Or is it the voice of wisdom, courage, strength, and non-attachment, and of course curiosity (the inner-leader)?

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We can easily tell the difference by how each makes us feel. The inner-critic depletes and slows us down, putting roadblocks in the way. The inner-leader energizes and a natural rhythm develops.

It’s all about who we spend time with. If we wish to exercise, we will seek out our friends who go to the gym or hike. If we want to lose some weight, we will opt to eat dinner with someone who prefers a healthy spot over fast food.

After getting curious, we can honor what our curiosity prompts us to do. The spark can do its job and a fire starts to glow when commitment enters. Our childhood selves were fully committed to being creative. That level of commitment is still something we are very capable of exercising!!

Again, we need to let go of the judge. We can ask ourselves, what do we want to commit to—negativity that depletes our creative energy, depth, and output, or the understanding that our thoughts and attitudes matter and that right thoughts and attitudes are the sparks that really let our creativity come alive?

Learn to Recall Your Childhood Self

To get in touch with that unabashedly committed childhood self, recall your childhood self. If you have a picture, pull one out. Keep it around so you can remember to activate that innate creative nature that was prominent then and wants to be prominent now and always.

Soak in the essence of that being. Commit to their commitment to brave and dogged trial and error because it is yours as well. You are that person.

Remember how tenacious you were when you wanted to build that sandcastle. You kept at it as the waves came in. You built with fury or reconfigured the walls. Also, remember that there was a willingness to fail since you were as invested in the process as well as the outcome—but less with the outcome. You were willing to experiment and start again. There was vitality—the main lifeline of your creative energy—instead of a rigid attachment.

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When you notice you are in conversation with your inner-critic or being held back by it, simply acknowledge, name it, and then switch to your inner-leader by taking a few good deep belly breaths, rubbing two fingertips together, or listening to ambient sounds in the background.

Physical movements shift our negative thoughts over to the positive domain of the inner-leader. As our judge continues to sit on the sidelines, our ability to quiet the inner-critic becomes stronger. We taste freedom. A simple taste emboldens us to say no again to the judge and yes to what makes our hearts and spirits sing—our creativity.

We begin to spark creativity to the point it no longer needs to be invited to play. It becomes our regular playmate—the younger sibling or the kid next door ready to have some fun, maybe even make some mischief by shaking things up.

When we align with our inner-leader and think and act from its promptings, creativity flows up and out with ease, as it needs to!

Letting those initial sparks generate a creativity fire that keeps burning is something we can all do! That’s the inside job.

2. Listen to Your Inner Leaders of Creative Energy

If we listen, our inner-leaders will let us know just what we need to set-up and do in our physical world to maximize that gorgeous, hungry creativity we now have flowing freely in us.

The seed has been unlocked! So, now what?

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To enable our creative energy to take its form and place outside of us, there needs to be spaciousness! Spaciousness in our physical worlds impacts our internal one. It lets the voice of the inner-leader be heard. It lets creativity have room to be sparked and acted upon.

With a little discipline, we can easily create spaciousness in our daily lives—spaciousness that will spark our creativity and let it take shape.

So, no matter who you are and what conditions help your creativity thrive, check-out these easy-to-implement basic suggestions:

  • Reduce or eliminate multi-tasking.
  • Say yes to what matters and what aligns with your big values and goals.
  • Say no to all else.
  • Say no again.
  • Schedule time in your calendar as you do with other things in your life to just be, to ponder, to let ideas percolate, and to create.
  • Spend time doing the things that bring out your creative energy. It could be walking, singing, or simply looking out the window.
  • Meditate.
  • Breathe—long breaths in and long breaths out through the nose.
  • Invite your body and heart into your experiences so your mind is a part of you and not all of you.
  • Try a new thing to spark your creativity. If you spend time running, try a different route. If running feels stale, cruise around a museum, or go for a bike ride.
  • Play a game. Indoors out or outside. Think of what makes you happy that you haven’t done in a while. Is it a physical game like badminton or cards? Maybe it’s storytelling? Play is creative, and it sparks the creative energy, too.
  • Spend time in the places that bring out your creativity. What spot in your home could be your spot for entering into that mode? Do you need to get out? Maybe a park bench is the right spot, with a book of poetry, or even nothing at all.
  • Spend time in nature. Nature brings us to a place of calm and awe and through that our creativity is easily sparked.

Final Thoughts

These are all habits—habits of mind and habits of doing. Experiment with what works for you. Have fun. If you give even 50% to altering your thoughts and actions, then you will begin to spark your creativity. It takes a lot of curiosity and commitment, but it can definitely be done.

Our innate creative energy is a deep source of all that we seek—joy, connection, renewal. It deserves and looks forward to the changes you will make that will let sparks fly and ignite!

More Tips to Spark Your Creative Energy

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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