What Does Your Job Teach You?


When you are looking for work, one of the most natural things to do is to look for a job where all the learning you have accumulated to date will allow you to compete successfully to obtain the position. Employers predominately are looking to hire people with the skills, experience and backgrounds that will benefit the company either on their bottom line, enhance their image, accelerate their growth and visibility or some other form of benefit.

How often however, do we look for work thinking to ourselves, I want a job that I can learn from. To be sure we might do this when we are young and just starting out, and again we might do this when we are changing fields of work. But I truly wonder if what we are saying to ourselves in those moments is that we are looking for something to learn but only to the point where we know enough to be competent in the job. So 7 or 12 years into a position, is there anything else your job teaches you?

I’m guessing you can think of people who are going through the motions in your own workplace. They are fixtures in the company, worthy of being respected and have earned their place in the company. But do you sometimes get the feeling, or even hear them say aloud that they are no longer challenged? That there is nothing further to learn in the job? I believe when you get to that point it’s rather a sad state of affairs – well to me personally at any rate.

Now in my situation, we’ve got a new computer software program which is taking people some getting used to across the entire Province of Ontario. And the learning going on is tangible, measurable, and it certainly is good for the old brain to be stimulated in this way. Aside from the software though, my work brings me into contact with people each and every day. And it is from these people that I learn the most and am the better for it.

I am fortunate to share my work day with approximately 50 or so people. That number includes Clerks, Employment Counsellors, Supervisors, Secretaries, Family and Mental Health Counsellors, a Psychologist, Receptionists and of course a wide diversity of clients. Each of these people, if I look for the opportunities and take advantage of them when they present themselves to me, has things to teach me that I can learn from.

For example, I can observe how one staff member’s personal style resonates with someone whom another staff person finds difficult to deal with. I can listen to the varying tone and pitch of a colleagues voice that makes what she has to say all the more interesting and encourages those around her to listen. I can recall the manner in which our Manager relays information, passes on praise and challenges us to do our best. And yes, even when there’s an issue arising, I can appreciate the delivery and the sensitivity with which it is delivered by a Supervisor.

From all of this and more, it is the case that my own communication style has changed. I suspect that like me, you either consciously or unconsciously find your way of doing things change as you learn to separate what you appreciate in others and what you find leaves a poor taste in your mouth. Sometimes we try to copy or mirror the best in others and see if how they handle themselves in certain situations would bring about similar outcomes for ourselves.

For learn we must; all of us. When we learn, we evolve, we grow in value not only to our employer but to those around us, our co-workers, our clients, our families and most importantly to ourselves. As we learn new skills, open ourselves to new ideas and as a consequence our self-esteem goes up and our self-image improves.

Be prepared for the truism that often real learning can be challenging on two fronts. First it challenges our own belief system sometimes secondly even when our belief systems aren’t being challenged and we embrace the opportunity to learn new things, we don’t always have the pre-requisites that will make the new learning smooth. Both of these are not insurmountable barriers to learning unless we see them as such, but rather once worked through make the lessons or information newly acquired all the more sweet when we master it.

So learning a new way of constructing a home might challenge the basic principles which a builder has been using on the job for a couple of decades, but if open to the possibilities, there exists the chance to not only learn a different way, but perhaps one that is more economical to build, less expensive to maintain and takes less time to create. To fight that opportunity is sometimes based more in fear about being made obsolete and being revealed as not capable of the learning.

So what does your job teach you? What opportunities for learning have come about over your time where you now work, and more importantly what opportunities exist in the present and are just on your horizon in your workplace? When we learn we continue to grow, and when we stop growing, we curtail that capacity to learn and evolve.

All the very best to you this day!

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