Henry Kissinger said, “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.”
Once you accept that jobs, clients and employers are temporary allies, your attitude toward work should change. Having benefits, making money, and developing skills are your permanent interests. Your employer pays you to show up. However, there are several things that you can get from work other than money and insurance.
Contacts. While you’re at work, you can cultivate valuable relationships with coworkers, vendors and clients. Understand that most positions are not permanent. Assume that everyone you encounter can help you get to your next position or will bring you business when you get to the next position.
I worked for a government agency for 10 years before I opened a law practice. My former coworkers retained me and referred their friends and family members to me. Those contacts that I generated were invaluable once I left that job.
Skills. Maybe you dislike the work you’re currently doing. You dream of a fun and fulfilling position. Consider the individual tasks that make up your job. If you’re a receptionist, decide to be the most pleasant and efficient receptionist who has ever greeted a customer. If you spend the day writing boring reports, use the opportunity to improve your grammar, punctuation and analysis of data. Take the time to research terms and concepts that you don’t understand.
Volunteer to coordinate an event so that you gain leadership experience. Ask your employer to pay for a class, training or coaching. If your employer won’t finance your skill development, you can take free and inexpensive classes through local colleges and online. You can also listen to books and podcasts on marketing, soft skills and just about any other topic during your commute. Decide that you’re going to get as much from your experience as possible.
Personal Development. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Use your time at work to improve your strengths and address your weaknesses. Let’s say that you’re impatient, and you work with people who annoy you or maybe you have a hard time focusing on uninteresting tasks. If your areas of weakness negatively impact your ability to advance professionally, you must address them. Decide that you are going to improve in your area of weakness by 1% every week. If you are consistent, you will see a 50% improvement in a year.
But what about strengths? What are you really good at? Perhaps you’re already a great listener, and people tell you that you give great advice. Think about opportunities at work to use these great traits so that they become even more defined and valuable.
Consider your employer as your wealthy benefactor. While you’re cultivating contacts, sharpening your skills and honing your personal development, someone else is paying you money and providing benefits. When you start your own business, or get the job you really want, you’ll be prepared to excel.
How can you grow and what can you gain from your current job?