Tag Archives: change

It’s Celebration Season: 9 Top Tips for Navigating Change!

9th Year Anniversary Celebration-Photo
9 Year Anniversary Celebration

It’s not an easy road

And many see the glamour and the glitter so them think a bed of rose, mi say

Who feels it knows, ooh

Lord help me sustain these blows

I cry!

Not An Easy Road- Buju Banton

November is celebration season for me! It is the month the earth was blessed with my presence (Birthday Edition Loading), the month I made the big change to move to America and the month some of my favorite people were born. So, for the month of November, I’ll be sharing lessons and insights based on my key milestones, and the deep sense of gratitude I feel at this stage of my life for all the experiences I have had and the people who have journeyed with me so far. This post will share my reflections about the top 9 tips I have learned on this my 9th Year Anniversary of moving to America.

November 1st, marked 9 years since my daughter (then two years old) and I migrated from Jamaica to the United States. As we celebrate the milestone, I find myself reflecting on that big change I made nine years ago and our journey over the years. For me, the title of (International singer /songwriter) Buju Banton’s song “Not An Easy Road, succinctly captures the struggle and  hardships I have had to overcome over the last 9 years to be where we are today. In fact, I have often told people that I cried more tears in the first 5 years of making the transition, than I did in my entire life- before or since. So, when I think of the lines from the song, I’m reminded of God’s goodness and faithfulness and how he has always provided for us and protected us.

Why Change is Hard?

I know you will agree with me that change is hard. This is true whether you are an immigrant to another country, just made an important life decision to get married, divorced, have children, change career, move to another city, sell or purchase a home, lost a loved one or are dealing with a scary health diagnosis.  According to Psychology Today, one reason that makes change difficult  “is that we are not ready and willing for change. We may be comfortable where we are and even scared to step into the unknown. If our current state provides us with comfort and security, making the change will be difficult.”  

Nevertheless, change is a constant and necessary part of life- personally and professionally. Our abilty to deal with change (See previous post based on Who Moved My Cheese)at work and at home will directly impact our progress in life, the quality of our relationships, our stress levels and whether we will thrive or merely survive.

Stepping into Comfort Zone vs Risk Zone
Stepping into Comfort Zone vs Risk Zone

9 Top Tips for Navigating Change

That said, there are huge benefits to celebrating milestones such as birthday and anniversaries. Celebrating significant events in your life provides you with opportunities to remember all the difficulties that you have had to overcome; take stock of your life and assess the progress you have made in key areas; think about the future and begin to plan for what lies ahead. And while this is uncomfortable and difficult for many, it is necessary for personal and professional development growth.

As I reflect on my journey so far, I am deeply aware that our testimonies, lessons, and experiences are not just for us. Sometimes we go through difficult periods in life that cause us to struggle with self-doubt, insecurity and that can drive feelings of despair and discouragement. And when we get through them, some of us are inclined to keep them a secret to keep up appearances that all is well or because we are ashamed of these painful experiences. When in fact, these experiences taught us crucial lessons to inform the way forward and that we can share and use to encourage other people who might need encouragement and wisdom to walk through their own valley moments.

So, if you are navigating your own life events and challenges, here are my top 9 tips and takeaways for dealing with change and navigating transitions:

  1. .Don’t ever let fear prevent stop you from taking a bold and brave leap toward the direction of your goals and dreams.
  2. Have a clear vision for yourself and the life you hope to have. This will help you on the days when you feel desperate, discouraged, and tempted to settle for less than you deserve or need.
  3. Dreams might be deferred but not forgotten. Be careful not to hold yourself hostage to specific timelines. Have faith throughout the journey and trust the process.
  4.  Preparation is important, but it never guarantees the desired outcome. The best laid plans might go awry but be prepare anyways.
  5. Be humble enough to embrace the discomfort of starting over, trying something different and learn something new.
  6. Relationships are the most valuable currency you have. If you build and invest in positive and supportive relationships, they will show up for you when times are good and bad, and you’ll always have a shoulder to lean on.
  7. Always show up as your best self. This means you must commit to keep learning and growing and making the changes that will help you become the best version of yourself.
  8. You are not your failures or your mistakes. When you fall or fail, cry If you need to but always pick yourself up and try again. You are stronger and more resilient than you know.
  9. Pay it Forward: Your gifts, talents and resources and experiences are not just for you. They are intended for you to help and support others. Give back, serve and help others.

I’m so excited for what the #NextNine years will bring!

What milestones are you #celebrating?  Share and let me know!

Until next time Remember, ItsALearningLife!

Who Moved My Cheese? 7 Tips For Dealing With Change!

Change and Challenge
Change- and -Challenge -Image

If you do not change, you can become extinct!”

Spencer Johnson

Think about the past year and all the changes you have seen and experienced in your world and the world around you. If you are like me, you have seen and experienced significant changes in both your personal and professional lives. For work, these changes may have included a shift to working from home, change in work processes and procedures as well as an increase in the use of technology to drive and maintain business operations. On the personal side, the changes might have applied to a juggling a new work /life dynamic of multiple roles and significant changes in how you do school, attend church, and even socialize. And chances are, you can readily identify other changes that might be coming in the months ahead.

While change is constantly happening in the environment around us, change can be difficult to deal with. Some people see change as exciting and readily embrace it because of the new opportunities and innovations it presents. But for others, the process of change is chaotic, risky, and filled with negative emotions such as uncertainty, stress, and fear since change marks a departure from what is comfortable or familiar. One reason why people fear change is that they do not understand it. When people do not understand the change or the reason for it, they tend to resist it, become overwhelmed by the change and begin to feel stuck.

Individuals and organizations that resist change or ignore it, are more likely to be overtaken by the competition or simply left behind. Therefore, it is crucial that both individuals and organizations demonstrate the ability to anticipate change and adapt quickly to changes in the environment if they are to succeed. So, how can we get better at dealing with and responding to change?

See what you’re doing wrong, laugh at it, change and do better.”

Spencer Johnson

Summary of Who Moved My Cheese

Who Moved My Cheese- Book Cover -Google Search
Who- Moved -My -Cheese- Book Cover -Google -Search -Image

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson (An oldie but goodie) is one of the simplest and best books I have read about change. It provides key insights on how change impacts people, typical responses and important lessons to remember when dealing with change. It tells a parable story about four characters- two mice (Sniff and Scurry) and two little people (Hem and Haw) who search for cheese in a maze. For the purposes of the story, ‘Cheese’ represents the things we want in life that will make us happy and satisfied. For you, cheese could be wealth, loving relationships, security, a career, good health, or spiritual peace of mind. And the ‘Maze’ is where we look for what exactly we want. This could be the place you work, your family, your community and the world around you .

At the start of the story, all four characters search the maze and find their cheese at Cheese Station C. Then one day, Sniff and Scurry arrived early at the Cheese Station C to discover that all the cheese had disappeared. Rather than stopping to overanalyze what had happened to the cheese and why it was gone, the mice determined that the situation at Cheese Station C had changed, so they needed to change. Both looked out into the maze and immediately moved on in search of new cheese. Sometime later in the day, Hem and Haw slowly arrived at the Cheese Station C to find that the cheese has disappeared. Both Hem and Haw were caught off- guard and their responses were totally different. Hem got angry and screamed that “it wasn’t fair. “Haw was shocked and frozen in denial.” Both struggled to accept the reality that the cheese was gone. Because the cheese was so important to them, Hem and Haw spent a long time trying to figure out what had happened to the cheese and what to do.

Because Sniff and Scurry had moved on quickly back into the maze in search of new cheese, after much trial and error, they eventually found new cheese. However, Hem and Haw stayed at Cheese Station C, wondering how it was possible for the cheese to be gone. They spent their days being upset about the situation and trying to figure out had gone wrong. After some time, Haw noticed that the mice were gone and wondered if they had found new cheese. Haw told Hem that since things were changing, they needed to change and do things differently. Haw suggested they stop analyzing the situation and move on. Hem refused because he was stuck on trying to find answers and unwilling to try something new. 

Though Haw was interested in moving on, Hem’s pessimism and discouragement caused him to lose hope and not act. One day, Haw realized that their “cheese-less” situation was deteriorating while they were waiting for things to improve. Realizing his folly, Haw started laughing at himself and told Hem that they could not keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect anything to get better. Haw then told Hem that “Things change, life moves on and so should we.” But Hem could not get past his fear and refused to venture back out into the maze. Haw then decided it was time to leave his friend and go back out into the maze to search for new cheese.

Though Haw was afraid, he gathered his courage and stepped out bravely into the maze. As he searched the maze for new cheese, Haw found bits and pieces of cheese, but not enough to sustain him. Excitedly, Haw ran back to Cheese Station C to share the news with Hem and found him looking hungry. Haw offered his friend some of the new cheese, but Hem was unwilling to try the new cheese because he did not think he would like it and wanted his old cheese back. Haw then realized that Hem did not want to try anything new and left him behind to continue his search for new cheese. Before long, Haw found Cheese Station N, which had plenty of new cheese in all shapes and sizes that he had never seen, heard of, or tried before. He looked around and saw Sniff and Scurry with big tummies which suggested they had been here awhile. Haw dived into enjoying the cheese while hoping that Hem would eventually step back out into the maze and follow him.

When you change what you believe, you change what you do!”

Spencer Johnson
Four Characters in Who Moved My Cheese-Which One are you?-Image
Four- Characters- in- Who -Moved- My -Cheese-Book

Responses to Change

As evidenced by the story, change happens to all of us but each of us responds differently. How we react to change determines the impact change will have on our lives and our chances of success. To better understand your own reactions to the change(s) taking place in your life, reflect on the how the four characters of book responded to their cheese being moved and consider if there are any similarities in your own responses to change:

  • Sniff:  These are people who sniff out and anticipate changes in their environment and notice the change happening around them at an early stage. They are flexible and generally better prepared for change when it comes.
  • Scurry: These people who jump into action immediately once a change has been detected or has occurred. They are open to changing direction easily and quickly and tend to benefit from change sooner than others.
  • Hem: These people who deny and ignore change and want to stay where they are comfortable. Hems feel entitled and act like victims (blaming others) when change occurs. They get stuck in fear and do not adapt. They resist change and ultimately pay the price for it when they are left behind.
  • Haw: These people “hem and haw” at first but become open-minded when they see that change can lead to something better. They are willing to adapt, learn something new and will laugh at themselves when they see what they are doing wrong and make the changes to do better.

So, which of these characters are you most like? And what could you do differently to handle change more effectively? Believe it or not, we all have these four characters in our families, and on our work teams.

Quote explaining nothing grows in the comfort zone
Nothing -grows- in- the- comfort- zone- quote-image

Being in the uncomfortable zone is much better than staying in the cheese-less situation.”

Spencer Johnson

7 Tips for Dealing with Change

No one controls how you respond to change—just you. Here are seven tips and lessons from Haw (as he moved through the maze to find new cheese) that you can apply to improve your ability to deal with change and ensure your personal and professional success:

  1. Change happens – they keep moving the cheese. In other words, change is everywhere.
  2. Anticipate change – Get ready for the cheese to move. This reminds us to be aware of what is happening in our environment and never get complacent with our cheese or where we are.
  3. Monitor change – Smell the cheese often so you know it is getting old. Since nothing stays the same keep assessing how you and your cheese are doing. Are things getting better or worse?
  4. Adapt to change quickly – the quicker you let go of old change the sooner you can enjoy new cheese. Holding onto the past and the familiar will never move you forward. So, keep learning.
  5. Change – Move with the cheese. Don’t get stuck in negative emotions. Stay flexible and open.
  6. Enjoy the change – Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese. Change is good.
  7. Be ready to quickly change again and again – They keep moving with the cheese. Be willing to adjust and adapt repeatedly and stay ready.

So over to you, how is your cheese doing? Are you monitoring your cheese to see if it has moved lately?  Are you moving with the cheese or are you stuck? Whether we accept it or not, change will happen to us. Never be afraid to step back into the maze. The quicker we adapt to change, the happier and less stressful our lives will be. Afterall, we do not grow in places of comfort. Embrace change and grow. Until next time, Remember, It’s A Learning Life!

What would you do it you weren’t afraid?”

Spencer Johnson

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How to Change Your Behaviors & Build Better Habits?

Turtle climbing steps
Turtle climbing steps

In my last article, I talked about how habits work and explained that much of our behaviors are automatic habits that keep us operating on autopilot for significant part of our days and lives. So, what is the big deal? Due to the unconscious nature of these habits, some of us are functioning daily with habits that no longer serve us well. In fact, some of our habits might be undermining the lives we want to create for ourselves and our families and ways we want to grow and develop personally and professionally.

Since all of us have at least one habit that we want to break or build, I challenged you to identify one habit that might be getting in the way of your overall effectiveness. This could be a mindset, a relationship or habits related to food, exercise or how you spend your time and money. Since, our habits can work for and against us, it crucial that we understand them and ensure that they are working in our favor and not to our detriment. Afterall, we cannot fix a habit without being aware of it and truly wanting to change that behavior. But then again, changing behaviors is never easy. Our habits formed to serve a function and usually continue to do so.

Unformed Puzzle vs Formed Puzzle in Human  Mind-Image
Unformed Puzzle vs Formed Puzzle in Human Mind

Small Habits, Big Changes

At the start of the year, I read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear which talked about how tiny changes, little choices, small improvements in behaviors can unlock significant success and remarkable results. He argued that “if we could improve by 1% every day for an entire year, we could get 37% better by the end of the year.” Conversely if we got 1 % worse every day for an entire year, we would end up being 37% worse off at the end of the year. Clear explained that if you are willing to build small behaviors and layer 1% improvements on top of them, they will compound and multiply the same way that money multiplies with compound interest over time.

One example of this could include you increasing your water intake daily or replacing one meal with a salad or fruit/vegetable smoothie. Making any one of these choices on daily basis might not immediately result in a drastic dip on the scale or in the pounds automatically melting away. But after a year of this behavior (and if you continued), you are more than likely to experience and see huge gains in your health and overall nutrition than had you made no change at all. The full impact of those actions will compound as getting 1% better every day counts for a lot in the long run.  

From Seed to Plant-Different Stages of  Development -Image
From Seed to Plant- Stages of Development -Image

How to Change Habits?

Whether you or realize it or not, we tend to describe ourselves based on our behaviors and preferences. People who love coffee will say they are coffee drinkers, while other who prefer teas will identify as a tea drinkers. And this applies to how people see and describe us as well. So, when it comes to changing habits, identity plays an important role as well. According to Clear, the most effective way to change your habit is not to focus on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become. Your identify emerges out of your habits since every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become

Clear advises that rather than setting a goal to read 12 books this year, see yourself as reader. Then ask yourself, what do readers do? Answer- readers read (even one page every day.) When you embrace the identity of a reader and read, you are intentionally casting votes for that person you want to become. And the more you do it, you will start to see yourself as that person and build up more evidence to support that identity. Once this behavior becomes your identity, there are no limits on the number of books you will read. Therefore, focusing on identity change can help you become more conscious about your habits and help you to be more intentional about your behaviors so that you can make better choices to grow and improve.

For me, reading Atomic Habits back in January was huge game changer and it helped me restart writing this blog. I had originally started this blog back in 2014 to share my ideas, lessons, experiences and engage with others. For the first year, I consistently published an article weekly, which later dropped off to once a month, then periodically and I stopped altogether in 2016. This was due to a lack of motivation brought on by the stresses of what was happening in my life at the time. Though I had stopped writing my blog, I continued my love of writing by contributing to newsletters at work and occasionally writing on LinkedIn. For the years in between, I developed a habit of spending a huge amount of my down time scrolling through Twitter and consuming long hours of TV with popular streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix, and Apple TV. I was not reading books as much anymore and I was not writing consistently which are hobbies I enjoyed and believed I was good at.

After reading the book, my biggest takeaway was that “Every action you take is a vote for the person you want to be.” When I assessed my habits and tracked how I was spending my time, I realized I was voting for an unproductive TV watcher not the writer I hope be. My behaviors were not consistent with my goal to write and publish a book someday. I knew these behaviors had to change. Consequently, I decided that my writing rut was over, and I would resume writing and publishing articles on my blog again. As I got started, I had doubts about whether I would be able to be consistent and I worried about whether anyone would read. After thinking about it for a while, I resolved that writing was more about me honoring my talent for writing and not burying my talent due to my fears.

One Day, Day One
One Day, Day One

So, I committed to posting an article every Monday and developed a system to support it. I am happy to report  that since February 1, 2021, when I started, I have a casted a vote for the writer I hope to become and now have written and published 16 articles and counting. There is now evidence to support my identity as a writer and my journey continues. I no longer allow the fear that no one will read or doubts about how good the articles are to discourage me. I just vote for myself as a writer every week. Plus, I spend way less time on Twitter and watching TV.

So how about you? Who and what are you voting for? Which new identity do you need to adopt? Clear explains that “In an election, you do not need to have 100% of the votes to win, you just need the majority.” Changing your habits is not about perfection, just progression, so just start. And even if you mess up, avoid the all or nothing mentality and get back on track to keep going.

Four Laws of Behavior Change

So how do we change our behaviors and build better habits? In his book Atomic Habits, Clear recommends four laws for behavior change to build better habits as follows:

  • 1st Law of Behavior is make it obvious: One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top. This is called “habit stacking.” The habit stacking formula is: ‘After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT]. With that you then set an implementation intention that says, After work, I will go outside for a 15 minutes’ walk in my community.
  • 2nd Law of Behavior Change is make it attractive:  The more attractive an opportunity is, the more likely it is to become habit-forming. Habits are a dopamine-driven feedback loop. When dopamine (feel good hormone) rises, so does our motivation to act. It is the anticipation of a reward – not the fulfillment of it – that gets us to act. The greater the anticipation, the greater the dopamine spike. Temptation bundling is one way to make your habits more attractive. The strategy is to pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do. Example, I will watch Netflix while riding my stationary bike.
  • The 3rd Law of Behavior Change is make it easy:  The most effective way to learn is to practice not plan, so just get started. If you spent all your efforts thinking about the issue, researching, and gathering information but never took any action to execute, you are simply in motion. Instead, focus on performing the behavior . Habits are formed when we repeat the behavior over and over. Remember the amount of time you spend performing the habit is not as important as the number of times you have performed it.
  • The 4th Law of Behavior is make it satisfying: “We are more likely to repeat a behavior when the experience is satisfying.” So the “The Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change states that “What is immediately rewarded is repeated and what is immediately punished is avoided. “If you want to get a habit to stick, you need to feel immediately successful—even if it’s in a small way. So come up with a way to reward yourself for performing the behavior.

Afterall all is said and done, there is no magic bullet for behavior change. Any kind of meaningful change takes time, intentionality, commitment, and consistency. Some days will be harder than others and what works for me might be different for you. So just get started.

Until next time, Remember, It’sALearningLife.

P.S. If you want to learn more about behavior change, breaking bad habits and building better ones, check out James Clear’s website for more insights.

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How- to- STAR- Your -Job Interview-Video

So You Think You’ve Arrived?

“Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.” Zig Ziglar

imagesW127FBBZThink about a time when you’ve experienced success in some area of your life, and received accolades from your family, peers and friends. For most persons, this a proud moment, a rewarding experience  which can be described as “heady” at best. Yet, this is only one side of the story. Most successful people will tell you, the road after success was probably rougher than the one leading to it. Indeed, you may learn that behind each of those individual stories of success and achievement, are untold stories that are filled with less pleasant experiences, that might have threatened to derail them. So, my focus here, is on some of the pitfalls of success, (i.e) what is likely to happen to the individual, after he / she experiences success.

For most people, success and achievement produce a huge boost in  self-confidence and provide greater motivation towards the pursuit of goals. As such, it is highly unlikely to cause an individual to  immediately think about how they need may need to change. No, not when whatever they have done has worked, or has yielded the results they hoped for. More often than not, the individual is likely to think he/she is on the right path, and herein lies the danger.

My “blind spot” popped up very shortly after my first promotion on the job. It was accentuated by the fact that, I had just won four (4)  quality performance awards including “Employee of the Year, Most Dynamic, Best Performing Learning Facilitator and 1st Faculty to Produce a Research Paper”. It’s therefore safe to say  that -“I was on a high”. The recognition and accolades that followed only served to solidify my work ethic and philosophy about work and working with people. This could best be captured in my (then) personal mantra,“It’s not about me, it’s about the job. I don’t have to like you (or vice versa) for us to get the job done”. I don’t know how that might  sound to you, but for me and other goal oriented people, the focus was simply to get the job done and produce results-not so much the “people factor”.  So I was truly caught off guard when I realized  that “what had gotten me my current level  of success would not get me to my next.

You see, my job promotion has placed me at the helm the agency’s satellite training center, responsible for its regional operations and business development initiatives, directly supervising a team of 7 and approximately 20 third-party vendors, and suppliers. I tackled my new role, deeply conscious of the weight of my new responsibilities, the expectations of others,  and with a burning desire to continue to succeed.  Sometime after, the agency conducted an employee satisfaction survey to assess how well the organization was performing. These types of survey provide the management team with a good gauge as to how they are doing, gaps in performance and the areas of business operations that require improvements.

imagesGJM2MUUQThe good news was, my unit was doing well on most performance indicators, but the bad news was -my team was not entirely happy with me. That is, my management style. For though it produced results, and I enjoyed their confidence, respect and support, I wasn’t meeting their needs. Not surprisingly, I experienced all the emotions I described in  another post (Why Does It Hurt So Bad?) and then some. Please note, that this dilemma was by no means unique to me. A quick review on the literature on Leadership Development will show that, many persons who assume leadership roles for the first time often face this issue or another during the period of adjustment.

Fortunately for me, the response of my supervisor was swift. She anticipated how devastated I would have felt, the learning curve I was in and she gave me her support. To move forward, both organizational and individual efforts were required. This experience prompted me to go in search of books on leadership, and resulted in me receiving developmental coaching, along with  participating in a truly life changing leadership development program. These interventions, gave me the skills and tools, I would need to become the effective leader I strove to be, and equipped me the competences I needed, to become more effective with my team and guide my continued success.

Therefore, my experience is  merely a reminder that, there are hidden dangers lurking with success. Success in one role, does not automatically lead to success in another for we all have blind-spots. It also taught me that:

  1. imagesDespite my earlier successes, I hadn’t arrived. In fact, I was just getting started, and was even a little ill-prepared for my new role. This is by no means an indictment on my organization or the effectiveness of talent management and development strategy at my agency. Our successes should also prompt us to assess ourselves in the context of the new and emerging expectations and obligations that will follow.
  2. Both organizations and people need to invest in ongoing training and learning and development, regardless of role or position. Therefore, it is critically important that organizations plan for the development of their teams, prepare them to grow, move and attain success within the organization, and develop into more effective individuals.
  3. Development is dynamic – strengths can become weaknesses and new roles may require new skills. To avoid the pitfalls of success,  one must recognize that, the approaches and mindsets that brought you earlier successes, might no longer serve you at the next level and you will need to change.

What has your experience been? Please share, I’d like to hear from you.

Images Courtesy of Google.

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It’s Not An Easy Road or Intro to the World of Work

imagesCATBHRXUWhether you’ve had to search for a job or even had one handed to  you’ve been hired. And I reckon that regardless of how you got your first job, the experience is one you’re not likely to forget. This is partly because the process might have been long and frustrating or because of all the changes, challenges or the exciting opportunities it presented.  For with all things new, there is a sense of expectation, excitement, anxiousness and even fear that comes along with it. Will I be good at it? Will I like it? Will they like me?  And while these questions will occupy your thoughts for days or years to come, as you tackle your “many firsts”, one thing is sure, your life will change.

For some people, the change and opportunity costs might be small /subtle, but for others they might be more far-reaching as noted below:

  • Relocating or leaving  the comfort of home for the first time  for your own place ;
  • Greater  independence  and responsibility as you  can now access things you couldn’t previously afford,  may have to contribute to the household/sibling, or simply  take care of yourself ;
  • The loss of endless free time  to sleep late, watch TV, hang out  or  party like a rock star until the wee hours of the morning;
  • The unnerving  realization of just how small the world is – as suddenly people from work “pop up” in the strangest places like the supermarket, hairdresser/barbershop, movies, parties. And suddenly, there is always somebody you know from work who knows somebody and you are reminded to be on your best behavior.

imagesD9R7JRUOFor me, the   year was 2004, and my first job brought all that and then some. I had aced my interview and was offered a more senior role than the position I had interviewed for. This opportunity was to uproot me from my comfort zone and circle of family and friends in Kingston, Jamaica  to the cool climes of Mandeville, Manchester. And though I was not familiar with the area, had no contacts there, and only two weeks to get relocated, I jumped at  the offer and accepted my new job. After all, the way I reasoned it, I would still be living in the same country, I had no  ties, my new job would be centrally located (only 2 hours’ drive) from the places I called home, and  my friends and family would be relatively close enough for me to maintain my social life.

So with  all the gusto that only youth and starting  new chapter in one’s life can  bring, I tackled the challenges of finding an apartment, acquiring furniture, learning to navigate a new town without being mobile, meeting my  supervisor  and the rest of the team. Looking back, this big change brought me equal doses of fear, doubt, anxiety and excitement. Nonetheless, I managed all this with relative success and survived my first day on the job. But, there  was no way I could have or would have  envisaged or  adequately planned  for  the added dimension  of a Category 5 hurricane hitting the  entire island during my first week on the job. Hurricane Ivan ravaged Jamaica’s physical infrastructure (homes, roads), wreaked havoc on the natural landscape, plunged huge sections of the island into darkness and damaged other utilities that would make communications via telephone/internet particularly challenging if not impossible.

collage-headercollageiva 2

So to make a long story short, I weathered the hurricane reasonably well at home, but had no such luck at work, as  Murphy’s Law was in full swing, and everything that could go wrong- did. Notwithstanding, the  effects of the hurricane  was a mixed blessing. It created considerable  down time in the company’s operations. This frustrated our customers and  prevented me and the rest of the team from executing  some of our deliverables on the job . Yet, it provided me with great opportunities for teamwork and building relationships  with my colleagues, which would make the difficult days/years more pleasant. More importantly, it enabled me “to jump in at the deep end”, add value and demonstrate the unique talent I brought to the team,which would augur well for my later success.

Therefore, here is  my advice to anyone  entering the world of work, starting a new job or a first job:

  • Be open-minded, committed and expect the unexpected.Great opportunities may come from outside your comfort zone;
  • Be gracious and kind to everyone. You never know  just how your actions may impact others, create goodwill  or send recognition your way;
  • Give of your best efforts and don’t be a slave  to your  job description. So while you do your job, help out a colleague whenever you see a need and wherever you can- you will learn  the company’s operations much faster ;
  • Take your time- no matter how perfect, bright and talented you think you are, you will make mistakes, but that just another way to learn.

What’s your story? Please share, I’d like to hear from you.

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