Albert Einstein famously said: “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” All of us make mistakes as we start and progress in our careers. Some mistakes are small; they can be rectified in some manner and you can move on. Others can be colossal blunders, affecting the trajectory of your career – and life.
In an article titled You’ve Made A Mistake. Now What?, written by Amy Gallo and published on Harvard Business Review, Christopher Gergen, the director of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Initiative at Duke University and co-author of Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives, says the most useful thing you can do is “translate a mistake into a valuable moment of leadership”.
But what if it was possible to sidestep some of the most common mistakes people tend to make at work– and realise way too late? We list down important career learnings that everyone should live by; working with them in mind will ensure that you evade these important mistakes and don’t hit quite as many roadblocks along the way.
You must be agile to grow in the modern workplace
Dean Becker, President, and CEO of Adaptive Learning Systems, a company that creates programs to teach resiliency, feels adaptability – the trait that determines how you respond to change – is a key determinant of success. “More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That’s true in the cancer ward, it’s true in the Olympics, and it’s true in the boardroom,” he writes. The most successful people are flexible, agile, and know how and when to pivot. “Flexible” employees tend to be better leaders, are better able to handle career transitions, and bounce back faster from setbacks.
You need to keep learning and upskilling
Time was when you joined an office after getting a degree and could plod on till you neared retirement. But whether you’re a newbie, looking to advance your job role, or wanting a change in your career path, upskilling is the best way forward. Constantly upskilling makes you more valuable, opens up more opportunities, lets you meet new people and discover new interests, and can also future-proof your career. Be it a course, webinar, lecture or personal reading, they all help. Start investing in yourself – time and money – to get the best long-term results for your career and focus on a “solution” mindset instead of harping on problems.
You need to make yourself as indispensable as possible
No one’s indispensable. We hear it all the time, but there are some people who are missed every day they’re not at work. Your aim – while in a job – should be to make yourself as irreplaceable as you can and try to make your immediate supervisor redundant. To do this, it’s imperative to identify and develop a micro-niche of your own, one that sets you apart in your team/company/industry. A personal brand like this one will ensure you are relevant for years to come. Taking up as much work from your supervisor’s workload as you can showcases that you can take on the next level of responsibilities.
Your social life needs to be off office hours
Spending hours on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram means that you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing – work. According to a report, in 2016 that an average of 2.35 hours is spent accessing social media at work every day, leading to a 13% loss in productivity. In the long run, it’s critical to focus on work, and leave the distractions by the side.
If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together
Helen Keller said long ago what holds true even now: “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” You may feel that with your talent and hard work, you can succeed on your own. It may kick-start your career for sure, but the difference between success and failure is often a great team. No matter how driven, talented, and passionate you are, your success will depend on your ability to be a team player and/or your ability to build and inspire a team. Numerous studies have shown that teamwork fosters creativity and learning, brings together complementary strengths, enhances conflict resolution skills, encourages healthy risk-taking, and promotes a wider sense of ownership.
Despite the mistakes, it’s important to remember that failure is never fatal. It’s an opportunity to be brave, try again, and aim to do better next time.