This time of year has been collectively deemed as an opportunity to express gratitude in several magnitudes. The gratitude I feel toward my personal life is immeasurable, and although it can be difficult to get out of the blinding (and sometimes binding) mindset caused by certain stressors, it’s always astounding to take a step back and actually see all that has been provided for (some within your control and some completely beyond it). The same applies to work. My experience in business and work and jobs has come with plenty of failures that would make anyone wince—failures done on my behalf, failures by others, failures by circumstances that were out of my control. But, when I see the bigger picture, I’m in awe of the circumstances that brought me exactly here, typing this blog, in this workspace, at this moment in time. And if I dissect my experience and extract specific elements that I’m grateful for in what I’ve learned so far at the handful of jobs I’ve had, I would say:
1. Perspective. I use the parable of the blind men and the elephant often. It describes how a group of blind men discovered an elephant. One touched an ear, another the trunk, another the tail (you get the picture), each exclaiming that this and only this was an elephant. Each of us in our respective workspaces come to any aspect of a job with our individualized thoughts and ideas and experiences and understandings. It’s only when we can point out to each other our perspectives and our understandings that we begin to see a more complete picture. It’s this sometimes messy and fumbled communication we make with each other that allows for these awakening ah-a moments—empathy and understanding flood when we begin to understand each other’s perspectives. It’s this act, so seemingly human, that keeps my ego in check, makes me learn more about my job at the moment (and maybe myself, too), and is something I have learned from time and time again. And for that, I am grateful.
2. Collaboration. Perspective and collaboration are sisters—you can’t really have one without the other. But connecting with people you most likely wouldn’t have otherwise met if not for your workplace presents an opportunity to see another’s skillsets and interpretation of tasks at hand. It’s an opportunity to mesh minds, creating something that wouldn’t have existed if not for you taking the time to learn and teach.
3. Learning. Coming into a job, working to any extent, is a cycle of give and take. I offer a set of skills at my job, sharing my perspective, learning from others, but I’m much more interested in what I can learn, what I can gain. I refuse to remain stagnant, driving my stake in the ground, exclaiming what I know for sure. It feels like a waste—to assert knowledge without uncertainty, to share experience without second-guessing. Do any of us really know what we’re doing? I think not, but maybe that just makes me a bad salesperson. But I know that when I come to a job or task and am curious and want to understand something differently or learn something new, I can gain perspective—which not only makes me a better learner and worker but helps those around me succeed, too.
I’m grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way, and I’m incredibly thankful to continue to grow and learn. Happy Thanksgiving, all.