Continuing with the corporate rendition of 12 lessons I derive from the life and times of Arjun, here is Part 2. This part will cover 3 lessons: 1. Embrace Realities, 2. Upgrade Skills and 3. Exploit Situations. For Arjun’s life story, please refer to “Life Lessons from Arjun”. Here, I will stick to the lessons for the Corporate Warrior.
1. Embrace Realities
You might often feel you have more work on your plate every week for the money that gets credited into your salary account every month. You might also feel that every two steps you think you take towards that much awaited promotion, the envelope moves three steps further. You might also feel the people around your cubicle get it a bit easier than you do. Did someone else end up getting that interesting project you were looking forward to? Did someone else get (or usurped) credit for something you put your heart and soul into? Do you think you have the messiest part of the job to do? Or do you think you’re being blamed for someone else’s created mess? And you’re of course expected to now clean up. Did someone steal the thunder out of your presentation? Do you also feel helpless in the middle of two strong opinions? Or you think you’re never heard? The list is endless and you might feel you’re not getting the recognition or rewards that you think your work makes you worthy of. Well, you’re not in Disney Land and this isn’t a fairy tale! I am sure you know you’re not perfect. Situations aren’t always either. It isn’t always fair and will never will be. Don’t expect things to always go the way you wish or plan. However well you orchestrate, you’re not playing all the instruments yourself. There are times you’re going to be hit hard. On the chin, below the belt and/or where it hurts most.
You might have on many occasions, thought of changing jobs and you would have also changed. I am sure you realize that realities are but the same. Realities will catch up with you, wherever you go. You run hard and they’ll run harder. The arena will keep changing, but the rules of the game will not change. Good if you already know all this but better if you truly embrace these realities and gear up!
2. Upgrade Skills
Your qualification(s) landed you in your first job you got. Its role is over. It was like the key to the main entrance of your office. It opened the gate for you and now you’re in. For you to make way ahead into cubicles, cabins and meeting rooms of different sizes, you need more keys – these keys are more Skills! Every specific task to be completed or every milestone to be crossed needs specific skills and no one has it all. Learning a new skill is actually the easy part. The difficult part is identifying the fact that you don’t have it and that you do need it. More often than not, people think they’re Arjun already. At times, you might be lucky if a colleague (can be a senior, peer or junior) comes and tells you that you lack a skill and you need to do something about it. That’s where their role ends. When you’re told that you suck at something, don’t let your ego play a bigger role than your ears. Don’t generalize feedback as criticism. Constructive feedback is good, but it doesn’t come when you’re in ‘the mood to listen’. You’ll be lucky if you get it when ‘you need it’ and when you can ‘still do something’ about it. You’re not in school and there is no curriculum in place. No one in office is getting paid to teach you. So you’ll definitely need to be of some help to people who can help you learn new things. You’ll be told once or twice and beyond a point, you’ll have to spend time assessing your current skillsets. Identify colleagues who you think are better than you and who would be happy to help you with things you’re not good at. In the pursuit of upgrading your skills, partner with someone who’ll help you overcome your weaknesses and reinforce your strengths. Follow a rule to do two things at work – one, keep doing more of what you’re good at and time permitting, help others with that skill. This will help you remain good at it. Two, do something you’ve never done before so you keep learning new skills. More skills will give you more kills, so when you to go for the kill, ensure you have the right skill!
3. Exploit Situations
When was the last time you did something which wasn’t a part of your key responsibility area or domain? The next time such an opportunities comes up, grab it with both hands. The next time you see someone in your team unable to do or not ignoring something that’s supposed to be done, do it yourself. But before volunteer, ensure you’re done with what’s assigned to you. What you volunteer for usually does not have an impact on your increment or bonus. It may just result in some nice to hear words in your appraisal. If you end up volunteering, ensure you do the needful because once you sign up, you need to own up as well. Ensure the right people know you did it. These ‘extra’ things you do will only take more hours, sweat and will be painful at times. These are a means to prove your worth in your team and exhibit how valuable you are to the organization. In fact, be on the lookout for more work. Scout for situations that demand some extraordinary effort. Don’t hesitate to take up something more than what you’re expected to do or paid for. Just look around, your opportunities are all over waiting to be plucked. You only need to keep your eyes and ears open to notice them. You’re lucky if you’re surrounded by colleagues who are laggards as they offer you opportunities on a plate and sooner than you think, the situation will be noticed by all concerned.
Volunteering is not the only way. New or more tasks can be assigned to you for three reasons. One, an important task has to be completed. You’re known to be good at it and expected to deliver the needful with finesse. So do it and delight your stakeholders. Two, you’re known to suck at something but you ought to be good at it. You’re expected to come out of your comfort zone. Make an honest effort and use the opportunity to be better at something you’ve never been good at. Three, you’re not good at it and expected to fail in delivering the right quality on time. People are waiting for that to happen and you should know why. Do whatever it takes, ensure you succeed. Shatter their plans, show them who you are and earn respect. Whatever the reason you land up with more things to do, you have but one choice in each situation –succeed.