Have you ever taken the time to look back on what you’ve learned and how you’ve benefited from the places you’ve worked?
Here is one example from my experience.
In 1989, When Chris Swisher hired me to lead a team that was responsible for 200 computers and to develop curriculum and consulting programs that supported 13,000 academic and administrative end users at Drexel University, I not only deepened my knowledge base, but also gained my first experiences as a manager, spoke on the local news stations as a computer expert, and began building my professional network that extended from the president’s office to incoming freshmen. As I was doing the work, I valued the problems I was able to solve for the faculty, students, administrators, and staff. At that point in time, it was a fabulous exercise in building problem solving skills and communicating solutions on a fairly large scale, with a wide variety of new challenges each day. In short, I got paid to geek out.
As I look back two decades, I realize that the technical knowledge had a half-life of about five years, but the relationships I created by being a reliable and communicative in-demand problem solver continue to be rewarding, personally and professionally. People whom I met at Drexel are people I still enjoy meeting for lunch or cycling or tennis, who have referred new business to my company, and serve as advisory board members and reviewers of my books and projects. Naturally, I’ve reciprocated in kind and served on the Alumni Board and search committees, consulted on grants, served as a reference for job seekers, and celebrated awards, retirements, and other noteworthy events.
The key take-away from this update is to look at the many dimensions of the company you keep, as colleagues, staff, partners, or associates — it’s part of the often under-appreciated, enduring treasure in your life.
Your Steps to Success
November starts the holiday season for me because I start to look forward to Thanksgiving early on. I savor the anticipation of the holiday, not just for the turkey aromas, family fun, and football games, but because it triggers me to reflect on all the things I have to be grateful for in my life and work.
Here’s how to get started with this growth principle.
- Reflect on highlights of the past year. What’s been a favorite project at work? Who have you gotten closer to among your family and friends? If you have children, what milestones have they crossed that make you proud, happy, or relieved?
- Since most people reading this are responsible for a business, a team, a project, or a division, reflect on how you’ve grown and gained in key areas. For example, what new clients did you serve? How did you improve your internal or external communications? What new systems or initiatives did you create and what did you learn as a result? This process feeds into a planning process that I do with my coaching clients and that I’ll be offering as a public workshop in Q1, so stay tuned.
- Share what you’ve learned to amplify the impact. You can share the highlights with your staff and ask them to do the same for a more rounded view (it may or may not make the full 360 arc) of your progress and accomplishments. One way that I’m using this process this year is by sharing at least one thing I’m grateful for each day of the month on Twitter in order to stimulate several thousand people a day to read and reflect on this theme in their own lives, as well as to raise my game in this social media channel; I’m always finding new ways to challenge myself and grow, and I encourage you to do the same! Follow @BillRingle for the #grateful tweets.