Do you remember the seeing the poster back in grade school – All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum? There was a poster and even a book with the same name. In the first chapter of book there is a very important section:
We are sent to school to be civilized—to be introduced to the essential machinery of human society. Early on in our lives we are sent out of the home into the world. To school. We have no choice in this. Society judges it so important that we be educated that we must go. It is the law. And when we get to school we are taught the fundamentals on which civilization rests. These are first explained in language a small child understands.
It’s true, when you think about it – so much of what we learn in that first year of schooling helps us interact with other humans throughout our entire lives. However, when it comes to our careers, we sometimes lose those basic skills.
You’ve gone through personal growth since kindergarten, but somewhere between meetings, deadlines, children, bills, and daily strife, we lost those rudimentary skills that society deem important.
Here’s a refresher on some of the highlights – relearn them for your life now, and reclaim some of that childhood wonder.
My grandmother always said, “Be nice to the people on your way up, you’ll meet them on the way down.” That same thing applies to your daily life. We all know those people who lie, cheat, and steal their way to the top of their field. How do people talk about them when they aren’t there?
In truth, sometimes you won’t want to play fair – do it anyway.
Sometimes, you’re going to want to take the easy way out.
Sometimes, it will be easier to take credit for someone else’s victories.
Sometimes, it will be really difficult to clap as someone else gets what you really wanted.
Instead of working on “quick fixes” and taking shortcuts, play fair and work your butt off to get to where you want to go. Remember that you are not the only person working toward a goal. Just like you learned in kindergarten, take turns, help each other, give constructive criticism, and don’t gossip.
At the end of the day, is our success really that great if we leave destruction and half-truths on our journey?
Clean Up Your Mess
The mess while you’re in kindergarten is a little different than the mess you might make when you’re in the professional world – that mess can be much stickier.
You will muck things up, especially when you’re just starting. You will make mistakes, and that is fine, as long as you know you have to clean them up.
You will “Reply All” instead of to your friend in another cubicle.
Eat some humble pie and go apologize to them face to face as soon as you realize your mistake. (I learned that one first hand, it was painful but a great lesson learned.)
You will put something in the copy machine that does not belong in the copy machine.
Do not wait for someone to come fix it – try to figure it out by yourself or get someone who can help.
You will pitch something to a potential client that is not what they wanted.
Learn from that mistake and come back bigger, badder, and better than ever.
You will make mistakes, you are only human. Your personal growth will show when it comes time to clean up that mess. No matter where you are in your company, your mess belongs to you, not your assistant, not an intern, not your family, you alone. Own it.
Sometimes your mess will impact others and those are the worst messes of all, because they often don’t have a quick fix. However, there is one small thing that will never hurt:
Say “I Apologize”
“I apologize” can be one of the most difficult phrases for you to say – that is why it is one of the first lessons we learn in kindergarten.
The power of a simple “I apologize” is incomparable.
Remember when I said you will make mistakes? Sometimes they can be remedied with an “I apologize.” Sometimes they won’t, and you will need to find another way to fix things and clean up your mess.
You still need to say it.
Remember Dick and Jane
Was learning how to read difficult for you? For some kids, they see some letters backwards, some letters upside down, and some letters even that look different on each page. But through hard work, repetition, and practice, many learn how to read.
Working toward other personal and career goals, is a lot like the learning process – everyone has a different journey, and everyone starts small.
You have to know the letters before you know the words.
You have to know the words before you know the sentences.
You have to know the sentences before you know the paragraphs.
You have to know the paragraphs before you read the book.
You probably will not be an overnight success. You’ve read before about figuring out your journey, using the Daily Dashboard, and making routines so that you can monitor yourself. You didn’t open Hamlet and start reading, you spent years and years working up to it with practice and outside help.
Start small and work your way up.
“And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”
It is so important to have a person you can lean on when things get rough. Sometimes it can be as simple as a brief conversation, other times it can be a frank discussion filled with tears, yelling, and wanting to give up. Having someone to hold your hand and help you is the best way to get where you want to be in your career. That’s where Mark comes in. Though he won’t always hold your hand, he will tell you the truth and help mold you into the best you possible. If you are serious about growing in your current role, contact me now for a free 45-minute conversation.
I encourage you to enjoy life daily.