8 Lessons I Learned about Work the Hard Way

When I graduated from college over fifteen years ago, I set out into the working world hoping to make my mark. I have had a lot of failures and a few successes in my fifteen year career. I thought I would share with you some of my career advice that I have learned the hard way.

1. Be honest

It is always tempting to exaggerate or promise more than you can deliver. I have been guilty of this many time in my career. Perhaps it is because I aim to please. I aim to please my customers, or I aim to please my manager.

It is important to be honest with yourself and with others about your ability to deliver work on time. Before making a promise, I have found it helpful to first list all aspects of the work, including the skills required and the specific tasks needed to accomplish the work. Sharing this list with your manager and/or your customers will help you stay honest with yourself and with those around you.

2. Have a good attitude

It is easy to lose your cool on a job – either by getting angry at yourself or by getting angry at others.

When you make a mistake, forgive yourself as soon as possible. This will help you keep a positive attitude in tough situations.

3. Have fun

A job should be enjoyable on some level. I have been in joyless jobs, and it was no fun. The reasons for this have varied, but one of the most common reasons has been job mismatch.

Seek to find roles that suit your skills and your interests. Find a business that is set up to allow you to be productive. As long as you are interested in what you are doing, you are good at it, and you are productive, you will probably find joy in it.

4. Seek the right rewards

If your reward for a job is money, you will probably be disappointed. I have found myself the most contented when my rewards were bigger than money.

Money is almost never enough to make one happy, even large sums of money. What can make a job rewarding is building a product or service that makes a positive difference in someone’s life. Take pride in making your mark on the world. In return, you will feel rewarded.

5. Build camaraderie

I have worked in environments where my fellow employees did not seem to care about me or the work I was doing. They also declined to spend time with me outside of work.

Camaraderie is important for several reasons. If you encounter a difficult problem at work (which you will), you will have a trusted teammate to turn to for help. If you want to share a personal problem (which you will), you might also have someone to turn to for help.

6. Be persistent

Early in my career, I started an online tutoring business with the help of a friend. We found some success, but we ultimately failed. Our target market was too broad, and our competitors were too numerous. I had ideas for how to create a highly innovative approach to learning, but I never acted on those ideas because they seemed too risky.

I learned that an entrepreneur should never give up. If a business is not working, then change it. Take risks and try them out. If the idea fails, then quickly move on to the next idea.

7. Have passion

I have been through seasons in my life when my passion waxed and others when it waned. When I was passionate about my job, I was the engine that pushed the business forward. When I lost that passion, I was merely a cog in the wheels of the business.

If you want to change the world in a meaningful way, you must be relentless in seeking ways to improve your skills and improve the product or service that you are making. Read, learn, grow, and take professional risks. These are hallmarks of passion. They will take you far.

8. Trust God

I have encountered dark times in my career. I have been stuck working on dead-end ideas, lost money in entrepreneurial endeavors, and been in roles that did not match my skill sets. These professional failures sometimes made me feel like a personal failure.

The only way to survive failures is to trust that God will catch you when you fall. God will provide for you in times of financial need. God will open new opportunities for you to learn. The Holy Spirit will guide you to make the right decisions.



 Work: Where Life and Calling Meet by Jerry Bridges


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