The real dilemma lies not in growing older but in ‘growing up’. The older we get, the more responsibilities are set for us, and this could take great effort to ease into. 2015 was probably the most challenging year for me yet, both as an adult and as part of the workforce, but it left me with these worthy lessons I can apply even to life in general.
- Practice accountability.
After my second year at work, I was promoted to a higher position, which I felt I was not yet ready for. Given the worrywart that I am, I panicked. What if I don’t get it right and the company goes downhill? I was thinking of all the endless possibilities of failure, but then I realized, I am already here. I felt like a fish out of water, but if I don’t take charge, who else is going to?
I learned all the ins and outs of the department I was assigned to, wrote down its strengths and the things that needed fixing, and started working on it with the team. Whatever the outcome of my decisions, I learned to start owning them. I am someone whom people looked up to, who led people, and I could not easily neglect the responsibility.
In the first part of 2015 – through all the blunders and stumbling about – I learned this: Be accountable for both your mistakes and your successes. Own them. Learn to sincerely apologize for your mistakes because everyone is vulnerable to them. Take in the necessary lessons, and move on to plan better. Being accountable is being responsible for the end result, thus being more responsible for the means to get to the desired outcome.
As with your mistakes, learn to acknowledge your successes. Reward yourself by patting yourself on the back even for the small milestones. Reflect on your successes, and share them with others. As with what they say, sharing happiness is doubling happiness.
I found the sense of accountability as the most difficult to absorb, as it is tied in with being responsible and being sensitive to the needs of others and owning up to consequences both good and bad. I always told myself, “Remember that you no longer have to think of just you; you now bear the weight of others. Whatever happens to them – either good or bad – will be a reflection of your work.”
- Seek and share feedback.
In 2015, I felt like I had to second guess myself since I was a beginner. Through this, I learned that the best way to know how you’re doing is to ask. Ask for the feedback of your team – both those you lead and your superiors – to affirm or approve your ways.
Gaining confidence and finding your groove is a journey in itself. Seeking feedback allows us to analyze our own strategies and to see – from someone else’s perspective – what we can do better (because there is always a better route to anything). The key is to never be complacent in learning, and to constantly try to hone ourselves through the sources available to us. As with life and growing up, consulting with others helps us assess how we are living; and guides us in exploring what steps we can take to make it more fulfilling.
Given that all is a process of give and take, don’t be stingy on giving feedback as well; most especially the good ones. I am a firm believer in positive reinforcement as I have always thought that anyone will strive harder once one figures out the right way of doing things. Using benefits as your ultimate rhetorical tool works wonders with people. Giving people a well-deserved pat on the back is both a reassurance and a reward for their strong capabilities.
On the other end (and this is probably the more crucial part), never let a negative action pass. We are all human, so there is bound to be error somewhere along the way. Always remember that being kind is not always about being nice. Kindness will allow you to put forth your concern in order for others to learn and improve on their own skills for the ultimate benefit of a whole.
Don’t hesitate on calling out a mistake so long as your intentions are clear – that you want only what is for the benefit of the person involved. It is so much easier to blame the sinner, but the real solution can only be brought to light if you put a spotlight on the mistake made. Always remember to focus solely on the solutions in order to move on rather than dwell on the problem and resort to finger-pointing.
- Take yourself out of the equation.
There are problems aplenty as we move forward in life and it can only increase in number and intensity as we go along. However, I have learned that majority of the hurdles we face are made up, exaggerated versions of reality that we plant in our heads.
We are victims of our own minds. It tricks us to believe that every negative thing is a hundred times larger than it is when it really isn’t. There are times when all we can do is to sit back and worry even if something is beyond our control. This leads to our main life nemesis: frustration. It is so easy to get frustrated in the fast-paced life of adulthood given the intensifying external pressures. But ask yourself this: Are my lingering negative emotions necessary?
In things you can’t control, try to take yourself out of the equation. Analyze your problems one by one. Distance yourself as if you’re a third party looking at another person’s problem. Is there anything else to do about it? If you’ve done everything you could but to no avail, would you want to linger, or would you prop yourself up and move on?
Growing up is hard, but we learn things along the way that make every day count. All we have to focus on is changing our perspective from, “This is too difficult,” to, “This will push me to be the best version of myself.”