Last week I had an excellent chat with good folks at PRPOI. Over sixteen years of working and transitioning from a communications professional to a Sales and Marketing person. If you ask me if I could do it all over again, would I do it the same way, I’d tell you mostly yes. Mostly because I would just learn the lessons quicker (don’t we all wish the same), work harder but yes, I would do it the same way.
Here are the ten lessons learnt that I penned down during the week. These are the things I learnt from some amazing people I got to work with, some people who pushed me hard to polish me around the rough edges and some lessons learnt after I miserably failed and fell down (and you thought it was all a joy ride?)
Take a lot of feedback. Filter a lot of feedback.
The thing about working anywhere good is that you will get an opportunity to get a lot of feedback. One of the best advice I got on feedback was- ‘Feedback is a gift’. The brilliance of this is that you don’t have to take all the gifts. You take the gifts that you need/want the most. And filtering feedback is easier said than done but I try. To be honest, I am today because of some of the best, and some of the sharpest feedback I have received. Some days I came home like a defeated Argentina football team. But now when I look back, had I not heard those things I would have continued with my blind spots and crashed and burnt long time back.
Don’t Try to Please Everyone
I spend most of my growing years to be a good student, good daughter etc etc. But I also had this thing about being nice, (read pleasing everyone, well! mostly everyone). When you come from a small town to a big city like Bombay, it’s not easy to disagree with a lot of people. You find middle paths, you walk a fine line, and you try not to stumble. One of my favourite line managers who later became my guide and mentor called me aside one day and told me, “You are going to create and build a business/brand now. As you grow, you will realise you will not be able to please everyone. Do the right thing; get you reasons, logic right. Have a spine and stand up for the things you believe in. And you will realise that you will piss off a lot of people at times. You need to know it will happen as you grow. Learn to deal with it. It’s not personal, its business.” It took me years to learn this. And trust me it was so hard. Not because I was pissing off people, because I was learning not to put my report card in someone else’s hands. These words not only helped me at numerous occasions in meeting room but so many times in my life outside work. Do the right thing, and have a spine to stand up for things you believe in.
Ask For Help and Ask Often
You know the best think about being out of your comfort zone? It makes you humble. It should make you humble. Someone told me long time back, that even CEO’s don’t know everything so be gentle on yourself. My best three words, “I don’t know”. Even better three words, “I need help”. I ask for help so many times. It not only helps with work but helps connect with people. It’s amazing how many doors get opened the moment you accept you don’t know it and you can do with a little help. It applies to your friends because trust me you can’t be so strong all the time. That data analyst guy who sits in the corner of your office, trust me he knows the numbers better than you at times. Go ask for help politely. Asking for help makes you better, not smaller.
This is a fine line. This is a debate. Be yourself vs Fit in. I will not get into that debate. But do whatever you want to do, be genuine. Don’t fake it. If you are an introvert, don’t try too hard to crack jokes. If you are an outgoing, bubbly, chirpy person, don’t lock yourself down. People are smart, they figure out real from a fake eventually. Don’t try to be somebody you aren’t to fit into a role, job, and place.
Being genuine also means being honest. Over the years you will realise that your biggest earning is the professional integrity you have gathered. If you don’t have that, your bank balance can get you just as much respect. There is no recipe or formula for this. If you are lucky enough like me to work with some gold class fine leaders, you will realise this is all about good old fashioned kindness and integrity.