There is a paradox which exists in the mind of just about every eager graduate upon entering the professional world: A great deal of trust and confidence in the world they are entering, and a very unreliable world they are entering into. The truth of the matter is that in our overzealous “fake it till we make it” ambition, “dress for success” professionalism, and constant need to look like we know what we are doing, we have made the terrible mistake of giving our young people the false impression we actually know what is going on.
It’s time we fess up!
#1 - The World Is NEW
Dear graduate, the world you are entering into is brand new. Capitalism is just a couple centuries old, and we are still figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Don’t let these tall building and busy streets fool you, no one is really at the wheel. We are figuring this all out as we go. Your fresh perspective and youth energy is sorely needed if we are going to get civilization where it needs to go.
#2 - There Are No More Accolades
While you are told that if you just work hard you will be rewarded, that is not necessarily true. Some people are rewarded for the appearance of effort, and others suffer long lengths of dedicated work without acknowledgement. No one is watching you, no one is tracking your progress, and no one cares if you “meeting your potential.” You have to stand up and speak for yourself, no one else will.
#3 - There Are No More Instructions
Doing what you are told got you good grades and recognition in school and college, but doing what you are told in the outside world won’t get you much of anything. While sucking-up can help you climb a ladder in a company, as soon as you leave that company you are at ground zero again. Don’t let anyone fool you. Your loyalty is to no company or organization, it is to yourself and constantly growing to meet your potential.
#4 - Don’t Take It Personally
Every business, every organization, and every culture has its own strengths and weaknesses. Typically, the emotional and mental health of their leadership will trickle down into everyday interactions. If you are in a business where you always feel stress, shame, and guilt then you are in the wrong place. It’s not you, it’s them. Don’t settle for crap, keep looking until you find a great place to work. Here is a hint: A place where you are treated as a peer, not a subordinate, no matter the position.
#5 - There Are No Rules
So this kind of sums it all up. In the end, there are no rules in business. There are just temporary collective expectations we have to meet to pay the bills. No too long ago, it was thought great workers sat at desk all day and worked overtime. Now we are learning to be flexible, work outside the office, set our own schedules, and stay healthy and well rested. Everything is always changing, don’t confuse the expectations of others with “the way things are.” Keep an open mind, keep experimenting, and learn what works best for you.