If you are lucky you will get plenty of advice as you forge ahead with your career...and of course there is always the internet to turn to now for comment and thought. But as I think about some of the things people have taught me over the years I often wish that I had learned them earlier - I wish someone had sat me down and just shared a few key pointers right at the beginning. So if I could talk to my younger self these are the things I would say:
Listen more than you speak: Develop your listening skills - don't just listen to the words, 'listen' to the body language, the surroundings, everything that is going on in that conversation. By paying attention to what your colleagues are saying and how they are saying it in meetings, presentations, even phone conversations, you can learn great business skills. So...listen first, listen some more and then speak.
Shoot your gremlins: Gremlins...all of us have them. The little voice in our ears that tells us we are going to be found out soon, that we aren't good enough or that we don't deserve it. Recognise those voices for what they are - gremlins that will hold you back - and shoot them down.
Celebrate your achievements: Give yourself positive affirmation. At the end of every day think about how you have made a difference in your role that day - what have you done to push things forward in your business or your career. Recognise the things you have achieved that day and pat yourself on the back. It gives you the energy to keep on moving forward.
Don't take the monkey: When people come to you with a problem help them to solve it themselves rather than taking that monkey onto your shoulders. You usually find that with a few well placed coaching questions they know the answer - they just need someone to help draw it out of them. That way you grow and empower the team around you, and give yourself the space to grow.
Be in the moment: Too often I find myself distracted, mind wandering to another scenario or problem...and I have to repeat what I was doing, or worse still ask someone else to go back over ground already covered. These days I try harder to focus on the moment. Whether at work juggling multiple tasks or balancing the demands of work and home, give the moment you are in your full attention, and then move on to the next one.
Practice Gratitude and Forgiveness : Take some time every day to be grateful for all the good stuff - for a helpful person, some clever thinking, a fabulous win or a kind gesture. And think too about what and who you need to forgive and move on from - a job not done well, an apparent slight, your own mistakes. Be thankful for the good stuff and forgive the not so good - that way you stay positive.
Hire Giants: David Ogilvy - the founder of the company that
I am part of - famously said: "If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants." Throughout your career hire people who are better than you and empower them to be the best they can be.
So those are some of the things I have learnt along the way that I wish I had known at the beginning - I can't help thinking that if I had I would have been more relentlessly positive, more efficient and effective and probably more successful more quickly. I hope my experience can help someone else who is starting out, or facing new challenges, to be the most successful they can be.