I was at the office today, on a Saturday, interviewing a potential for duGard Ellis. We’re growing and it’s great, but it reminded me to tell the person across from me to really think long and hard about the lessons that are the foundation of his personal work ethic.
I felt old.
There is a valuable set of lessons that people carry through his/her career. And I ended up sharing two very important ones that I learned very early. And I ended up sharing these with the young man who eagerly sat across from me, ready to prove he was ready, telling me that he could start as soon as I needed him to do so. My response? “Hold on, tell me what you’ve learned from life so far.”
And then I read a blog later in the day that dissected a theory (that I thought was solely mine) of thinking about how you work. It’s just as important and the work you do.
I’m not starting my career, but I have several opportunities staring me in the face. And even as an experienced professional, I recall my early lessons and things I’ve learned over the years.
Here are a few I have learned, so far:
Originally published September 21, 2013 on duGardEllis.com
One of the first professional lessons I learned was as an intern at United Methodist Publishing. I was 15 and impressed with myself that I had landed a cool marketing job at this big office down the street from my grandparent’s home. This was WAYYYY before the Gulch was “the Gulch” and Nashville wasn’t really the “it city” it is today. But, I learned two key things that summer. You cannot take a nap on the job. Yep, I happened to lay my head down for what was no more than 10 seconds…I could tell you that I was checking my shoe laces or reaching to pick-up a pencil…but that wasn’t it. I was tired. (What had I been doing to be so tired…who knows, and what 15 year old has the right to be tired at that age??) Here’s the real question: WHAT WAS I THINKING?????
I had great “home training” and knew better, but I thought the cracked door and a quiet office meant I could catch a couple zzzzzs. (My mother never knew this and is effectively mortified at this point – LOL). My manager came in and promptly, firmly and effectively said – “No way, not here, never again.” And that was the end of that. I’m a rules-girl and when it came to doing the right thing, well that was my mantra.
But that day, I was in a sleepy zone.
After that day – I determined I would always power through.
And I’ve taken that with me throughout my career. Sometimes you have to crank stuff out, not get any sleep, determine that it’s so freakin’ important to hit the deadline and get your boss that memo, or that copy, or that campaign concept, that not sleeping is the sacrifice. I can sleep when the good Lord calls me home (or when my body, husband and family – or Aerial – say, enough, stop!)
Lesson #1: Power through. (sleep, obstacles, challenges, etc.)
Lesson #2: Finish!
I was on a pretty impressive project that summer, and I was in full-on gotta-absorb-it-all mode. But there was one detail that my manager stressed to me that I remember before she presented to her boss. All I had to do was hit print. But I offered to collate, and bind the stuff too. She didn’t know that I didn’t quite know what to do with a binding machine, but I had seen one of her peers do it and thought, well I can too. I saw this as an opportunity to contribute in a big way to her project and really help her out. But I almost gave up…because, well, I didn’t have the knowledge base yet. But I was determined to finish what I said I would do.
I stayed three hours after the whistle blew to make sure I got the binding right. And it paid off. I received a huge end-of-summer recognition and my manager looked like the star. And at the end of the day, that’s what it was all about; making my boss (or your client) look like the star (Lesson #3 that Summer).
I read one of our client’s blogs recently, who mentioned following-up and finishing and it reminded me of these lessons. I was once the young person growing and learning how to be a business person. And life’s experiences made me realize that my life, my profession, my ability was all right there, all along.
Only problem…it took me a few years to fully grasp that those early building blocks provided the foundation that I still rely on today. I’m proud to be a late bloomer, but even more proud that I have the ability to reflect, understand and learn from experience(s) to become even better.
Power through and Finish!