As we turn our thoughts and attitudes toward appreciation this week, we tend to focus on hearth and home. But don’t forget to also appreciate the gifts you’ve received in the workplace.
Not all of us have employment right now, or a viable business, so if you are one of those who do, that is something to be thankful for in itself.
But there are other lessons, advantages and benefits we take out of our careers – apart from the purely tangible ones (such as compensation and benefits).
First of all, your workplace is where you are likely to have had a mentor, guide or advocate (and hopefully still do!). The early relationships in our careers may be formal or informal, but it is often from a first boss or client from whom we learn significant amounts.
We all often get acquainted with the relationships in the workplace, the skill sets required, and the practices and habits we must master by looking to someone above us in the hierarchy.
Of course, I learned about work from early babysitting jobs and having a paper route. But at my first job in a law firm, I learned a huge amount from my first boss, as well as coworkers who guided me and showed me the ropes.
What were the early lessons you learned as a worker?
As we progress in our careers, our day-to-day work builds skill sets. You learn by doing, and you hone your trade or skill until it becomes better and more robust.
This building of skill sets may have to do with running a computer program, or negotiating for salary.
Which skill sets have you built in the workplace? Which are directly related to your job, and which would benefit you elsewhere?
Further down the road, we are often tasked with supervising others. As a “boss” or coordinator, we learn a whole new set of skills on how to lead, encourage and support team members. We learn how to be accountable to others for a group of people, and how to encourage accountability in those who report to you.
Have you supervised others? If so, what surprising lessons did you learn by managing a team?
Workplaces also often provide experiences that are seldom found outside of the job setting. Travel for work, company holiday parties, and gathering around the company ‘water cooler’ are all parts of a job that are often referenced in popular culture because we have some version of these experiences.
These moments in the workplace are often fodder for jokes, gossip and sharing. They also make for some important memories.
Perhaps you recall one of your coworkers telling you about a particularly difficult time in her personal life. Or maybe you had an amazing meal on one of your work trips. Or maybe you learned that one of your colleagues is an expert story-teller.
What have you taken out of the work experiences that are not all about ‘work’? Whether what you take out of a job is what to do (by watching others) or what NOT to do (by watching others), we all learn something.
This is a perfect time to take the time to reflect and gather your thoughts to appreciate the gifts you’ve been given in the workplace.
Make a list of ten things you can be grateful for from your work experiences. Remember that gratitude is for YOU. What you take from your work history belongs only and uniquely to you. If you don’t stop to look at the presents, you can’t enjoy the contents.
Have a great week!
Aurelia Flores is Senior Counsel at a Fortune 500 company and former Fulbright Fellow who graduated from Stanford Law School. Her website, PowerfulLatinas.com, offers stories of success, along with resources and programs focused on Latino empowerment.