When I go back in my mind more than 13 years to my graduation and try to remember what my beliefs were and how they changed over the time I see pretty big gap. I studied technical cybernetics, economics and computer science so I was pretty geeky guy who believed that technology and software are the future and all what one needs.
The life taught me that even though these are some nice things to be around at the end of the day it is all about people and the way you interact with them. It is about the way you influence others and are being influenced. It is about the way you see the world around you and the people living in it. Each and every one of us creates our own version of reality formed by our beliefs and our approach to life. No one can make us sad or happy, it is just the way we decide to feel and react to external stimuli. So what would be the advice I would give to myself and to you?
Where should you go? What should you do?
The key is to find out what your purpose in life is. Why are you here? It may sound a bit too much like a philosophical question but if you find the answer you can direct your efforts in the right direction and do what brings you happiness and joy.
- Openness – the key is to be open to new experiences and opportunities. Only because you studied computer science (my case) it doesn’t mean you are meant to be a software developer. I suggest you keep trying new things, new hobbies, you travel and experience life in all its forms and maybe somewhere on the road you find your true purpose and then you can turn it into a profession.
- Love – whatever you do make sure you love it. I have never in my life had a job I wouldn’t enjoy. And it wasn’t that I would be too picky, I just always found something on the job that brought me joy and I worked hard to expand that part of the job and to learn how to like even the rest (more boring parts).
- Mission – find a mission of your professional life. Eventually, you want to be able to say who you are when you are in the office. If you can do that you will turn your job into a calling and you will love what you do, others will see that you are enthusiastic about it and you will become really successful in your eyes and in the eyes of others.
How should you interact with others?
It is all about people and the way you interact with them. Even for a software developer or other roles that are in its core one-man jobs you need to work with others to achieve greatness.
- Communication – don’t underestimate the power of word. Read lots of books, enroll to Toastmasters club, study languages, listen how others are communicating and what impact it has on you and your surroundings. Learn how to communicate your thoughts with impact so others listen to what you want to say and act on it. It is too easy to say “no one listens to what I’m saying” or “people ignore me”. It is in your power to improve your communication in such a way that you cannot be ignored.
- Collaboration – don’t do it alone. Always try to find ways how to work with others to achieve results that would be impossible to achieve on your own. Ability to work with others and through others is the key to have a truly memorable impact on the world. In my life I have built several great teams in several countries and the only way I could do it was to surround myself with great people, working together with them, going through all the ups and downs with them and at the end sharing they joy with them.
- Curiosity – stay young. And I mean really young. Having the raw curiosity of 5 years old can help you see the world as it is without the blindness that comes with age in the form of bias, prejudice, or just simply from being afraid of unknown and from being afraid of dreaming. I always found that curiosity is the trait that helps me most to listen to others and take interest in their lives, it helps me to experience new things and it helps me to learn and grow.
How should you interact with yourself?
It is all about mindset. Everyone sees the world through his own eyes and his own mind. It happened way too many times in my life that I saw the same action or incident as someone else, we had the same facts, but while I found it funny the other person got angry. It is not the event or the person that makes us feel a certain way. It is our own decision how we want to feel and react to external stimuli.
- Authenticity – be yourself. Each of us is unique and we should be grateful for that. There is no point in acting as someone else. People will recognize when you are just trying to be someone you are not and you will lose their respect. When you are changing your persona you are confusing others, they don’t know what to expect from you, how to work with you and so they will start ignoring you or laugh at you. If you stay who you are you can build a unique image that may not be the “prototype” of the ideal man or woman but people will like you for who you are.
- Integrity – you need to know who you are and act that way. When you act with integrity and you are honest with yourself and others it makes your life really simple. You don’t need to constantly speculate on what to say to whom, you don’t play any political games, you don’t lie to others, you go to bed every day with a clear mind and you look forward to the next day. The key is to identify a set of key values that are important to you and then live by them every single day.
- Positivity – learn to be positive. Every cloud has a silver lining is old but really good saying. That is the way I live my life and it allows me to enjoy every moment of it. I trust others, I see the good in them, I trust myself, I believe that the world is a pretty nice place to live in. The positive attitude gives you a power to always look forward to something, march towards the future instead of running from the past. It gives you a way to enjoy the small daily wins, makes you more resilient and able to deal with whatever life throws at you.
I love the concept of “being uncomfortable”. We live in increasingly competitive world and if you aspire to achieve more than others you need to stretch yourself beyond your comfort levels. If you don’t grow then you are letting the surrounding world outgrow you and one day you can find yourself helplessly watching what’s going on around you without any way to manage your own future. I used to be a quiet geeky developer but when I discovered my calling in helping and leading others I had to constantly stretch myself to learn new skills, communication and behavioral patterns. It was sometimes painful and stressful but it opened a completely new set of experiences and opportunities for me. This learning and discovery of my own limits will never end and I enjoy it immensely. I found comfort in being uncomfortable.
And if all this is not enough you may want to consider googling up words like: hard work, honesty, perseverance, patience, resilience, humor, continuous learning, care, usefulness, help, and empathy.
What are your life lessons you would give your young self? Would you do something differently?
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