#48 Five Workplace Lessons to Elevate Your Career Whether novice, veteran or somewhere in between, listed here are 5 critical workplace lessons for optimal career health and professional success. No. 1 Employers Don’t Guarantee Happiness One of the most impactful workplace lessons for you to know is that employers don’t ‘make’ people happy. Employer roles do not include cultivating nor sustaining your happiness.. The role of your employer is to provide work instructions so you can fulfill part of their business objectives. You produce output and they compensate. It’s a mutually beneficial agreement to create a working partnership. At no point in time, at least not that I’ve ever heard, do employers promise happiness. To further this point, they are not responsible for your development, your growth or your professional status. Once you sign on the dotted line, you agree to fulfill your employee role; they agree to pay based on their own standards and criteria. Hence, it is a grave mistake for anyone to assume or expect an employer keep them happy. As I’ve exclaimed before, “it’s not your job’s job to make you happy.” You will only set yourself to be disappointed! No. 2 Rely on Yourself, Not Your Employer Referring to Lesson No. 1, your employer’s role is to compensate you for your output, subject to their definition of compensation. They unfortunately have no obligation to inform you of upcoming RIFs, transformations or new business objectives. Therefore, it is great habit for you to rely on YOU in case work goes south. If, for whatever reason, you find yourself out of a job, a reliance on yourself will provide a healthy, practical activity that is completely within your control. Therefore, be more proactive in your career journey. I recommend Blog #33 about your Employability Vault. This article spells out a strategy and steps to help you get started with proactive preparations as a fallback plan. I have seen too many devastated faces at work. You never know what is going on behind the scenes. The Employability Vault is your go-to mental workout, whether work is going great or not going at all. Lesson No. 3 Behaviors Project Self-Worth This perhaps may be one of the best workplace lessons for your self-confidence. The lesson is that other people, in general, say and act in manners that reflect the way they feel about themselves. This is important for two reasons. First, when others point fingers, talk smack, or berate colleagues, they are exposing their insecurities. An individual who is disappointed or unhappy deep down will project this negativity onto others through their interactions. Similarly, a person who is highly confident and appreciative of who they are will treat others accordingly. Secondly, this applies to you, too! How you feel about yourself is an indication of the most important relationship you will ever have – the relationship with YOU. Therefore, what others think about you is really not about you. It is more about their own personal experiences, successes, failures… and what they believe about themselves. What others think of you is directly related to their own sense of self-worth. Hurt people hurt other people. The lesson here is to not take disagreements or nasty comments about you so seriously. At the same time, if you find yourself judging someone, redirect that judgment inward to assess your own insecurity. Lesson No. 4 There is No ‘Right’ Career Path “What is my right career path?” is a question that plagues many professionals at all experience levels. And the reason it plagues is because this question is a self-limiting, negative question to ask. “What is the right path” implies there is one right and several wrong answers. We live in a culture that teaches us decisions are generally ‘right or wrong,’ ‘good or bad.’ Therefore, this awful question produces unreasonable pressure for you to choose the right one. What if there were no such thing as a ‘wrong’ career path? Picture this – you sell the house, move the family out of state, start over at a new company only to find out you hate it. Most people might claim, “that was the wrong career move.” But I beg to differ! Can you be open to the idea that there is much value in all experiences? What I mean is, you lived through a process that did not produce the outcome you had hoped for. During this time, you experienced things, people and places you had never before known. You tried a new job, new employer, and new culture. Is it helpful and self-serving for you to know that it wasn’t a good fit? Yes, absolutely, without a doubt it was a learning experience. Just because the job or employer wasn’t a good fit doesn’t mean it was wasted energy. It is just as important to know what you don’t like as it is to know what you do! Lesson No. 5 Dream Jobs are Created, Not Found This may be the most enlightening of the workplace lessons mentioned here. I never knew that a dream job was something I needed to create. It was never ‘out there’ to be found, as if part of some scavenger hunt. No wonder I could never find it!? So, stop searching for your dream job. Stop meticulously analyzing job descriptions out of vigilant fear that they may not fit your ‘dream job’ criteria. And stop beating yourself up because you want more out of your professional life. Instead, realize that if you want external greatness, you must generate internal greatness first. I am going to include a phenomenal quote by musical genius Quincy Jones: “Love, trust and respect. Your music can never be more or less than you are as a human being. That’s the bottom line. So you work on being a good human being first, even before a good musician.” The lesson learned here is that if you want great, be great. Your job can only ever be as great as you are. Which of the 5 lessons are holding you back? Let me know in the Contact Page! I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!