Got a life? Then you’ve got a gold mine. Why? Because your life is crammed with opportunities to build the skills you need for a successful career.
Think of a “crazy time” in your life when you had to contend with challenging situations like starting college, moving into a house or apartment, getting a divorce or out of debt.
Those situations require real management skills although that may not be what you’re thinking in the heat of the moment.
Every life challenge teaches us something important about ourselves, other people, and the way the world works. When we don’t learn from our experiences, we squander an opportunity to expand the arsenal of skills and insights our career growth depends on.
Life lessons build skills.
In my late 20’s, I, a country-loving girl, convinced my then husband, a Brooklyn, New York native, to rent an old farmhouse which had been the family home of an elderly, reclusive woman, recently deceased. Prior to being rented, this remote homestead on 15 acres had been cleaned and painted from top to bottom.
We fell in love with the place immediately, committed to a one-year lease, and moved in with our two show dogs and a cat.
Let the adventure and skill-building lessons begin:
Learned Lesson #1: Due diligence minimizes surprises.
On moving day, I went into the basement and noticed that the concrete walls were almost completely black. So I looked closer and to my horror discovered that they were covered with tens of thousands of millipedes, little wormy creatures with lots of legs. Dial, Terminix, asap! So much for a pre-rental inspection.
Next, during the early onset of winter, I noticed that there was scrap-able frost on the inside of the bathroom windows. Awaken one brutal awareness: There was no insulation anywhere in this house and no storm windows. Bad news!
It’s important to check things out before sealing any deal!
Learned Lesson #2: Risk management reduces calamity.
At one point, the realtor/superintendent sent his freelance, furnace serviceman to maintain the oil burner. This guy spent about a half-hour noodling around in the basement, pushing the reset button back and forth, and still the furnace wouldn’t start. So he touched a match to it and started an oil fire.
He calmly asked, “Do you know the number of your fire company?” Answer, “No.” “Well, you should call them,” he replied.
It took the fire company three hours to find the place. By then the house was filled with black smoke, but nothing worse. After several hours of huge fans sucking the smoke out, the calamity was over.
Having people in the ready, who can bail you out of trouble, is smart business.
Learned Lesson #3: Problem-solving requires initiative.
As the winter wore on, so did the miseries of being cold while not wanting to go broke heating an un-insulated house. Something had to be done.
We made a deal with the realtor/superintendent to share the cost of making operational a fireplace in the dining room where we would live for four months, sleeping in a trundle bed with our pets. Lovely, eh?
It became my job to start the early morning fires in that freezing cold room. The fire wood, stored in the adjacent summer kitchen, was damp and hard to light.
I was teaching high school at the time and a kid in my class worked at a bowling alley. When I explained my plight, he asked if I’d like him to bring me discarded bowling pins to use as kindling. You betcha! Compressed sawdust covered with lacquer starts in a flash.
Engagement of resources and timely decision-making create good results.
And so it goes….
Our lives provide endless experiences that let us develop management skills away from the office’s watchful eyes. Through those life experiences, we build our skills, insights, resilience, tolerance for stress, and courage. Experiential learning bolsters our confidence and enhances our credibility. The skills you develop at home and bring to the job will enrich your career. Seize the day!
Do you have a story to tell about skills you learned from your life experiences? Thanks.