We all go through that one job in our career that, in retrospect, seems like a mistake. The one job you wouldn’t be proud to display on your CV, the one boss you wouldn’t want called for a reference or simply the one you think you had no good learning experiences from. However, the thumb rule that every cloud has a silver lining applies here as well. If nothing, the one job you wish you hadn’t done, gave you experience, perspective and lessons that shaped who you are today.
So if you are stuck in one, or have previously worked in a place where your work was bad, think on the following lines, introspect a little, and hang onto these very essential lessons that will help you all throughout life:
- The Importance of Communication: Think back to why the work you did was so miserable in the first place. Was there too much pressure? Was the boss unfair? Did you need support? Was there too much distraction? Break down these factors, and keep asking yourself ‘why’, until you reach the core issue. There is a good probability that the challenge will be related to improper communication – from your or your boss’ side – about expectations, deadlines, quantity of work, or honest feedback. Hence, a bad job teaches you how important it is to clearly communicate – both ways – to avoid problems down the line.
- Build your Skill: The fact that you are not enjoying your work could be because of the reason that you are under-equipped to take on the job, and constantly feel the heat to up your game. Rather than using this an obstacle to performing efficiently, a lesson to be learnt here is the need to constantly upgrade your skills at par with your peers. Making mistakes because of gaps in skill-sets and knowledge is acceptable, as long as you are willing to learn from it – and turn your short-comings into strengths. So bad job pushed you to learn things and skills that you probably wouldn’t have.
- Taking the High Road: Situations and circumstances, in a work that you no longer enjoy, will teach you the importance of doing the right thing, despite it being unpopular. You will learn when to hold your tongue, and when to speak up, you will learn when to claim credit for success and when to attribute it to others, but most importantly you will learn the dynamics that are created when a group of people come to work together – and how important it is to stay true to yourself, no matter the situation. Therefore, taking the high road will probably be the most essential lesson you can learn from a bad job, for you will have to replicate this learning several times in your life, outside of work as well.
- Defining a life outside of work: A lot of people permit their work to define them – without even realising it. Even when we introduce ourselves, what we do professionally follows our name, and everything else follows later – that’s just how we are wired. But a bad job will ensure you will make every effort to not let your work define you. You will constantly pursue activates and endeavours to break through the barrier of your job. Equally important, going to a workplace that you don’t enjoy every day will allow you to not get complacent and push you to do better constantly, forcing you to try new opportunities and avenues. Thus, a bad job will allow you to fight for a life beyond itself.
- The Significance of Boss/Leader: Probably the bitter pill among all the lessons, but you will realise that the people you work with influence your career more than you realise – or can control, specially your boss. You will also realise that leadership and management can be learnt over time, and bad managers will teach you what not to do, mistakes to avoid, or you might end up realising that you don’t want to be in that position. In every case, you will learn the importance of the position of the person you work directly with, and learn lessons about leadership and management.
- The Importance of Networking: Following directly from the above point, you are likely to learn that networking and maintaining professional relationships can you give your career a boost, more than you anticipated. The people that your work with, or have previously worked with, are the people you interact with the most, and it is in your best interests to keep the relationships cordial, even after the professional association is over. The way you join and exit organisation, the way you interact with people, and how you do it – are a few lessons that will help you make better decisions all throughout your life.
- The Value in Details: Many learn this the hard-way, but the importance of giving attention to detail is only realised once you do a job that makes it mandatory to do so. Writers will only realise the importance of proof-reading once they are made to proof-read endless scripts, and managers will understand the importance of data keeping only they are made to it as a part of their job. The understanding that time-consuming, and often menial jobs, are as important as the big ones prevents one from being sloppy and re-iterates the idea that no work is ‘below’ anyone. The essence of cumbersome or difficult processes, systems and documentation can best be learnt, only when one is made to follow them rigorously.
It’s true that when we do the work we enjoy, we end up learning a lot, for there is an innate desire to learn, but the same argument can be extended to the job we don’t enjoy – for there is a need to get better at it, to build yourself and emerge successful – and hence the learnings that we get here are equally important. True, such lessons cannot be quantified, but persistence and dedication in doing any job, even one that you don’t absolutely love, comes with invaluable lessons. So treasure these lessons, for they shape who we are, more than the technical or knowledge-based skills that we learn.
What is the one lesson you learnt from your bad job? Share with us!