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Learning from the Past

It's a New Year! A time to reflect and look at lessons from the past. Being that I'm located in Calgary and, with the market the way it's been, there have been a good number of lessons doled out this past year -- many of which have been the hard kind. Unless you are a particularly introspective person, days/months/years may come and go without taking a pause to reflect.

As Maslow suggests, a person cannot become fully competent without first achieving a level of conscious competence and one can't do this without occasionally stopping to take stock of what they have learned. And making the necessary adjustments. Sometimes one finds some old lessons reinforced. Sometimes, like in the final scene of the movie "Burn After Reading", we learn not to do it again -- whatever "it" might be. And sometimes we learn something new and truly valuable that helps to reshape our approach to business, relationships, life.

Years ago, I came across the following list of "11 Things That I Wish I Knew When I Was 20." I'd kept it without really having any purpose for it and I stumbled across it again recently*. Likely 10 years have gone by since last I saw it and now, reviewing it again, I still see the truth in the ideas expressed. I'm definitely going to share these with my children in a few years as they prepare for their first jobs. Perhaps you will enjoy them as well. If you have any of your own "words of wisdom" that you're willing to share, please post a comment. I'd love to hear from you! *Note: I wished to credit the source of this list but, as it was so old, I was unable to find the original source

11 Things I Wish I Knew When I was 20

  1. No one pays you to solve a "non-problem"... seek out challenges -- the bigger, the greater the recognition!

  2. The harder I work, the luckier I get! Work hard to put yourself into a position to get lucky:

  3. Don't wait to be anointed... Stretch your role. Don't wait for someone to empower you or give you a title... Solve the problems of your boss and your boss's boss. Don't get hung up on titles... what's important is what you accomplished.

  4. Don't burn bridges... The toes you step on today might be attached to the butt you need to kiss tomorrow.

  5. You can do it all... just not at the same time. Set priorities and re-evaluate them and change them regularly. Life is a circus; keep your plates spinning!

  6. There's no such thing as a balanced life over the short term. One needs to find balance over the longer term. And get stuff done when you need to regardless of how it impacts the work/life balance... whether it is the work or the life side of the equation that needs the attention. Know when sacrifices are necessary.

  7. The little things mean the most. "Please" and especially "Thank You" make a very big difference. It sets you apart and helps to formulate a strong and respected personal brand.

  8. Team... The key is making everyone else successful. If you do this, it will come back to you many times over. Pay it forward.

  9. Take every opportunity to deliver excellence. Good enough is not good enough. Do not "phone it in". If you are not going to do the very best work that you can right now, today, then when are you planning to do it?

  10. Find a job with a culture that fits you. Individualistic or team based? The wrong place will crush your soul.