A while ago, the following question came up in a LinkedIn discussion group: “What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you were graduating from college?” Most of the group responded with answers such as learning oral and written communication, understanding the other person’s perspective, thinking beyond the text, showing initiative, taking calculated risks, etc.
Following is my response.
First, I wish I had known I was going to live this long so I would have taken better care of myself.
Okay, on to some real answers. Some things I picked up that aren’t necessarily profound, but make it all easier.
1) No matter who you are walking past in the building, look them in the eye and say hello. Do not be intimidated by the higher ups. (Don’t be cocky, either.) Treat them as equals. And the same goes for those in lower positions — particularly as you rise in the ranks. Treat everyone as a friend and an equal.
2) Continue to explore. College is about learning your discipline while, at the same time, gaining experiences in other areas. When first going into a position, you will be required to immerse yourself in learning the job, the profession, and the company. Do not let that become all you ever learn about. Continue to explore other learning because the greatest successes come from such cross-pollinations.
3) In making decisions about your future, it has more to do with sacrifice than reward. Any decision involves giving something up or it isn’t a decision. And better decisions are made if more focus is on choosing between what you will give up rather than on what you will get.
4) To steal from Alice in Wonderland, think impossible things. It is only by imagining the impossible that new ideas can really come to fruition. And that creativity is the foundation of real success. (And, if you are in a situation where creativity is not valued, run — do not walk — away. It will be a soul-stealing experience you will always regret.) Which leads to…
5) Embrace joy. There are people who still believe work is work and nothing more than work. They lead sad and dreary lives. Do something you really like to do. That is the only way it will ever become something you love to do. And that is the only way you can truly devote yourself sufficiently to be successful – successful in ways that count beyond monetary.
What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you were graduating from college?