April 2011. I walked into TBS – a bit nervous, slightly shy and oblivious to all that TBS was to offer me in the coming years. 10 years hence, here I am – reflecting back at the decade and the memories I made. Here are some of my greatest learnings from TBS.
1. Find people you look up to
The workplace is full of driven people, kind people, the nice ones, the quiet ones, the ambitious ones, the underdogs and many other kinds. Find inspiration in someone with integrity and credibility, and someone you can trust. A mentor can go along way in giving you trustworthy advice, honest feedback, calling you out when needed and helping you build your support structure and network.
2. Build your brand
What do you stand for? Is it creativity, discipline, integrity, people skills, kindness or something else? Your brand is how people perceive you so make sure it is your strengths that stand out. Whatever you do, never compromise on your and your organisation’s values, and stay true to yourself.
3. Your work folk are your second family
We probably spend more time with our colleagues than with our families (at least we did pre COVID-19!) so it is important to form relationships and build bonds. My father recently underwent a medical procedure and needed blood transfusion. I was touched by how many colleagues offered to help.
Work friendships come in many forms – lunch friends, run-to-advice-for friends, 2am friends, after-work party friends etc. Having a social circle not only builds your network but also helps you get through the difficult days. The world is a cruel place; find your people and hold them close. Friendships, whether at work or outside, are gold.
4. Everyone will not like you. And that is fine
Don’t concern yourself with something that isn’t humanely possible to achieve – pleasing everyone. Focus instead on achieving excellence and building cordial relationships with colleagues to ensure that any kind of personal friction doesn’t affect your work.
5. Stay true to your word
Everybody loves someone they can rely on. Be that person. Your colleagues should be able to trust you with your work and your word but don’t make promises you can’t keep. In the odd case where you are unable to deliver as agreed, keep the other person/team informed to avoid any nasty surprises.
6. If it’s not your business, stay out of it
Idle curiosity is not a good look for anyone. If it doesn’t affect/harm your life and the organisation, and as long as it isn’t hurting anyone, there is no need to indulge in idle chatter about it. Everyone is fighting their own battles so allow people the space to operate within their personal and professional constraints. Needless to say, offer a kind word and lend an ear when someone needs it, but stay away from gossip; it’s only a waste of time and headspace.
7. Find your bright spots
Is there a person who brings a smile to your face? Let them know. Is there someone whose advice your trust? Tell them. Is there something you really enjoy doing? Do more of it. Do you have a favourite spot in the office? Sit there often. Find what brings you joy. It will help you on the days you need inspiration or aren’t feeling your best.
8. Stop complaining
Really. Nobody likes a whiner and it can be detrimental to morale. Instead, consider talking to those in charge so that your concerns can be addressed at the appropriate platform. Looking at issues with a solution-focused angle can be a big asset.
9. Complacency is a red flag
Feeling comfortable with where you are is a good thing but don’t let that turn into disengagement. If work doesn’t excite you anymore or you feel bored, that is a sure shot sign that you need a rejig. It is easy to get sapped by a monotonous rut but complacency is the enemy of progress and is dangerous for personal and professional growth. You can break workplace monotony by seeking new challenges, learning new skills, volunteering and even by mixing up your routine. The trick is to recognise complacency, get out of auto pilot mode and keep pushing yourself to keep your mind refreshed.
10. Be kind
As the saying goes, in a world where you can be anything, be kind. Not only will it make you feel good, you will also help create a positive work culture. Give that compliment, offer help, forgive, celebrate small wins and listen. Kindness is contagious; make it your strength.
Even though I have completed 10 years at TBS, the prospect of the opportunities that lie ahead of me still excites me. There are many things I am yet to learn, a lot of places I need to see, greater things to accomplish and many amazing people left to meet. Perhaps I will write another note for my 20-year work anniversary!