It’s been twelve years since I felt like this.
Every time I start a new position, it always brings back memories of my first job. Nervous excitement that’s wound so tight you could do backflips if they were required in the job description. Today, I find myself reinvigorated by a new chapter in my life. This year promises exciting challenges associated with working on ambitious company-wide initiatives—both at Comcast and on several public boards.
I can’t help but wonder how I would have performed in my first professional position had I known everything I’ve learned over the years. If given the chance, I would have told my younger self three things:
1. It’s Not About You
It hardly ever is, but we often forget when we’re younger because the adults in our lives typically focus on our needs—sometimes even after we leave the nest. It’s okay to lean into your personal growth when you’ve begun your professional journey, but don’t forget that others are adapting eagerly along with you no matter their age. They might even have similar—and stronger—hopes and ambitions.
You may be familiar with Jack Welch in my Daily Wins program. He said: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” The path to leadership is about being others-focused. Sometimes rising leaders get distracted by personal achievement when, in reality, virtually every win is accomplished by a collective effort. Seek out ways you can support your colleagues, and you’ll discover numerous ways you can win together.
2. You Don’t Have to Know It All
There’s nothing like that first job to fill you with a fierce desire to prove yourself. We can’t know everything we’d like without leaning on others. Smart leaders know that intellectual humility is the key to being better learners and to creating the best solutions.
Google’s former vice president Laszlo Bock is well known for claiming intellectual humility as one of the top qualities he looked for in job candidates. “Without it,” he says, “you’re unable to learn.” It’s never too soon—or too late—to learn something new. My stepdad Smitty was a prime example of someone who knew the value of lifelong learning. A voracious reader, Smitty approached life with incredible curiosity well into his golden years and took delight in sharing what he heard or read. Open your mind and expand your talents by stepping up to life in the spirit of inquisitive souls like Smitty.
3. Be In the Moment So You Can Find Your Fight
You might have heard me talk about the importance of having a purpose in life, or what I call “finding your fight.” Without a purpose, it’s hard to eliminate distractions. Choose to be present in the current path you’ve chosen. If you’re always looking at other opportunities, you miss out on the chance to learn about what’s right in front of you and what might be your fight.
With so many demands put on our time, it’s tempting to think we can do it all. That we can multitask by serving our own agenda, scrolling through emails in meetings, and checking our inbox while on calls. Splitting your focus robs you of chances to fully participate in ways that your colleagues need you. Focus on the real prize, which is engaging in each moment. Only then can you truly see your purpose.
If given the chance, what would you tell your younger self? How do you measure up to your own advice?
Let me know your answer in the comments!