Success isn’t linear. Throughout our career we will come up against challenges. Some of those will set us back, get us down and make us question our professional choices. The biggest lesson though, is not the negative impact these experiences have on us, but how we can flip the script and take something away for our benefit. This attitude can be incredibly empowering. Putting a positive spin on an otherwise negative situation can lead us to personal growth and help put us on the path we ultimately need to be on. Here are eight common career lessons that can actually make you stronger!
1. A Bad Leader
While having a great leader as a boss can do wonders for our confidence, career and success, we can also learn a lot from our “bad” bosses. Not only can you learn where your professional boundaries are and what to look for in future bosses, but a bad leader can help inform how you want to lead in your career. Whether you are a manager or not, great leadership skills can take you so far, so tune in to those negative habits and make sure you don’t pick them up yourself.
2. A Disorganized Workplace
This can be a common issue. Especially in the modern workplace where companies are so focused on keeping up with the grind, we find it hard to slow down and organize our teams, thoughts, goals and tasks. Being thrust into a disorganized workplace can make us better organizers, if only out of survival instinct. It will also push us to seek out the tools to help organize our work, like shared calendars, Google Drive systems, project management apps, etc.
3. Difficult Co-Workers
Trust me, there’s one in every family, or workplace rather. This is incredibly common and more likely an example of personality clash than anything. As frustrating as they can be to deal with, our difficult co-workers teach us patience, understanding, compassion, leadership skills and strong communication skills. These are excellent soft skills you can apply to any position.
4. Being Underpaid
Unfortunately, sometimes it doesn’t matter what kind of advice we get from others, we just need to learn from this mistake for ourselves. This is especially common early in our careers. It can be difficult to build up the courage and life experience to negotiate for what we deserve. It is also not uncommon to deal with imposter syndrome, which can hinder our confidence in ourselves to believe we deserve more. Working for less than we deserve can be the perfect motivation to define and ask for your worth.
5. Negative Reviews + Red Flags
Would you overlook negative reviews at a restaurant or a product you were going to spend your money on and book a reservation, or order a 1-star rated product anyway? Probably not. So, why do we accept jobs from company’s with abhorrent Glassdoor reviews? The same thing goes for red flags. Sometimes as young professionals, we are so eager to accept a position and begin our career that we ignore bad reviews and red flags from the beginning. Hopefully, it only takes one toxic work environment to learn to trust reviews and our gut instinct about prospective employers. If you have been one of the unlucky ones to end up in a toxic environment after dismissing bad reviews and red flags you’ll be sure to do your research and due diligence in the future. You will set boundaries and expectations for future prospective employers, to set yourself up for a healthy work life.
A rejection from a prospective employer can be a huge learning opportunity. If you are not successful in the hiring process, it’s always worth following up. A kind and inquisitive note following a job rejection to ask what you could improve on for the future can help you gain insight into the skills and experience you should prioritize to land your dream job.
7. Being Fired
Being fired can be one of the worst experiences of your life. Not only is it a blow to the ego, but it can put us in a difficult position financially. It may take some introspection, and some grieving, but being fired can definitely be a tough lesson that teaches us about personal responsibility and accountability. It can also be a blessing in disguise, sometimes we were underperforming in a job because it simply wasn’t the right fit, which leads us to our final tough lesson.
8. Working the Wrong Job
Sometimes it takes time to figure out what we really want. Have you ever seen a dress that looks like the perfect dress? You dream about how amazing you’ll look in it and how great you’ll feel when you finally have the chance to wear it. But when you try it on, it turns out it’s too loose around the armholes and hits you at a weird length and fits too tight across your hips? The same thing can happen in our dream job – sometimes, it’s just not the right fit. We don’t know that until we try a few on and then voila, one day we find the perfect fit – dress, or job. This can potentially be the toughest lesson we learn and may even take the longest to learn. We can pour so much of ourselves, our time and our money into fitting into the career we thought we wanted and so when it doesn’t quite fit, it can be a hard pill to swallow. If you’re just not clicking with your career, don’t be afraid to try something new. Just like the right dress, when it fits, you’ll know it’s the right one!
Your career will be filled with many successes – big and small, but there will also be some inevitable challenges and tough lessons you come up against. Any negative experiences along the way can be harnessed to help you form the greater picture of what you are looking for. Both from a workplace and also your expectations of yourself. Sometimes what we thought we wanted can actually be the wrong fit. Take the tough lessons along with the wins and use them to grow into the person you aspire to be!
Are you currently dealing with a tough lesson in your career right now and looking for someone to talk it through with? Reach out to Style Nine to Five Founder Christie Lohr to Ask 1 Career Question!
Sheila O’Neill is a creative, innovative and inspiring storyteller with a background in fashion.
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