Learn About Life While You Work

May 9, 2018

Whether you are an employer looking for talent, or a student looking for an internship, we all know there are things you can learn in the marketplace that can never be adequately communicated in a classroom or textbook.  

So far, so good.

But we have to go a bit deeper than that. If you simply aim at everything, you will inevitably aim at nothing.

Everything a student, young person or new employee observes and experiences in the work place is not something he needs to learn. In fact, there are probably a few things you hope a young person you’ve involved with won’t pick up at the work place!

Nobody writes more incisively about leadership and personal development these days than John Maxwell. With a nod of appreciation towards his wisdom, let me suggest three things any young person or young person you’re working with focus on while he’s getting his PhD in Work.

1. Relationships. The most important asset at a workplace is the people that work there. No matter what your title or position, unless you’ve got the permission of someone else to lead them, you’re going to be pulling dead weight. As the old saying goes, no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

The first skill any young person needs to learn when entering the workplace is how to care for people the you work with.

2. Results. But it’s not just about feeling warm and fuzzy, is it? Eventually, somebody’s got to get something done. So I want a young person to learn the art of both working hard and working smart.

Learn how to focus on the main thing, how to plan your work, how to dispassionately evaluate your work (and be evaluated), how to be accountable for your work and how to commit to constant improvement.

3. Reproduction. There is a limit to what one person can do. That’s why those that learn to multiply themselves through the cooperative work of others can experience nearly limitless growth.

A doctor once told me of his lawn mowing career in high school. The first summer he borrowed money from his dad, bought a mower and paid Dad back for it by the end of June. The rest of the summer was pure profit.

The following summer, he took the previous summer’s profits and bought several mowers and some other lawn equipment. He got a few of his buddies, put them to work  and made multiples of what he’d made the summer before. He learned the art of reproduction!

Notice that my once-young friend didn’t skip a step. He hired buddies (relationship), knew just what to do to keep his customers (results) and reaped the benefits of multiplying his results through the efforts of others (reproduction).

The work place can be an ideal institute of learning. Just make sure both you and any young person in your charge know what subjects to major in.