You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space. - Johnny Cash
This weekend, there will be tens of thousands bright, talented and energetic college graduates walking across the stage to receive their degrees, and it will be a happy day for them as well as their family. Congratulate the recent grad – they deserve it.
And – hopefully shortly – they will be experiencing their first post-college job, a brand new experience for them. Those first days on the job can be confusing and stressful for sure in a new environment we call work and new dynamics of people. I thought it would be helpful to review, again, the career “killing” mistakes people make in the hope that this will help out new graduates steer their way.
Everyone makes mistakes. The real key to success is making good on a mistake you made, admitting it and then learning from the mistake. That is developing leadership – that is being on your way to a highly-successful career. What follows are the mistakes that are very hard to recover from and therefore should be avoided at all costs:
Not accepting responsibility - When you make a mistake in your work, fess up to it – accept responsibility. In his book on leadership Good to Great, Jim Collins identifies a key traits: When in the face of crisis when a mistake has been made, followers look for someone to blame; leaders look in the mirror and accept responsibility.
Not being a team player - No one likes a prima donna who is just focused on me – me – me. Being a team player, and contributing to joint efforts will help one define their success. Demonstrate that you've got the greater good of the organization at heart.
Working with a fear of failure - Many work every day doing the same thing over and over. They appear not to believe in themselves. If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will. Instead of saying, "I've never done that”, try "I'll learn how." Find learning opportunities in every situation. Consistently being risk-averse can be more hazardous to your career than making mistakes and learning from them.
Undermining people or the company - Talking behind the backs of others, undermining managers or the company. Discussing a confidential matter; spreading gossip. Not only will you find yourself isolated, but others will not trust you and when not trusted, your growth stops. Don’t engage others in inappropriate discussions. While there is such a thing as free speech, it's not so free if it costs you your job!
Being disrespectful - Being disrespectful to others is a career killer. Treat everyone as you would expect to be treated is important. Being condescending to others, pretentious or making someone feel like they aren't good enough is so damaging to all. There is no place in a job for yelling or calling someone out in front of others.
Being one of the “walking dead”, without goals - You know them – the people who just come to work every day, do the bare minimum and simply collect a paycheck. They get by for awhile, but when business conditions require cost cutting, guess who’s the first to go. Always work with a set of goals – long and short term. Talk your goals over with your manager. Know what is expected of you – always.
Checking your people skills at the door - Researchers found that if employees are disliked, it's almost irrelevant whether they're good at what they do, because other workers will avoid them. Go out of your way to communicate, establish strong working relationship with others, smile and be engaging with others, it will work wonders for you.
If you find yourself in one of these situations – time for damage control. Fess up – be accountable, communicate to others and ask for guidance from your boss or other leaders. When it is behind you, push on and succeed!
And thank you for reading this. - Dan
President & Founder
Next-Act, Division of DVG, Inc.
Career Management & Transition Specialists
Corporate Management Services
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