Very early in my working career in my chosen profession, I was a real pain in the butt. I aggravated everyone above me in the organization. Not because I wasn’t pleasant to be around. No, I was very pleasant to be around. Not because I wasn’t likable. I was very likable.
I agitated people above me with one continuous question over and over. The question? When will I get promoted to manager? I actually ended up getting promoted way earlier than I thought and way earlier than I was ready. The most common answer I was given to my often-asked question? Don’t worry about advancing, just keep working. I got this answer almost every time I asked someone my broken record type question. Don’t worry about advancing, just keep working.
While I didn’t know at the time, I do believe that now, almost forty years later, why that was the answer they gave me. Here’s what I believe “Don’t worry about advancing, just keep working means”:
1. Working means you are getting paid. You may not be making very much compared to what you’ll be compensated later in your career, but it doesn’t matter right now. It’s money and you need money to have a living space, to eat and live. Not only that, it’s only some level of validation. Professionals get paid, amateurs do not. Maybe you were a non-paid intern before, you weren’t validated with compensation. The belief in you was low, but now you are being paid and you are able to be more confident while working in your chosen industry.
2. Working means you are learning. Everyone you work with has things to teach you. Here is where the difference can come in if you are smart. Ask them to teach you. Be very interested in every area and every role. Every person who is in a paid role at any level of the organization has valuable information that you can extract. You never know when, later in your advanced career, having that knowledge may really help you. A lot! Robert Iger, who just retired as CEO of Disney, did an excellent job in his book, The Ride of a Lifetime, of just how much he learned in every job he had in his career.
3. Working means you are building a network. Some person whose job it is to bring donuts to work every morning may someday be a VP. Somebody who is making copies and putting binders together may be CEO 25 years from now. You never know what the future holds for the people who are your peers or below you, or right above you today. Make friends, develop relationships. The most valuable possession you have may someday be the database of contacts you make early in your career development.
4. Working means you have an opportunity to sharpen yourself and get better. Getting better means you are producing better results and performing at a higher level. That is really difficult to do if you have no opportunity.
So, the point I am trying to make to you today is, never turn up your nose at any job in your chosen field when you are starting out. This crap job today can teach you plenty and you can reap valuable stuff from every job you have as you travel the long, disciplined road to mastery in the industry you choose and love.
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