Last month, I asked my email subscribers a question: What do you know now that you wish you knew then? (and wish you did). Imagine you are having a coffee with a younger version of yourself. What would you say? (If you still feel that you are the younger self… what would you ask the future you?)
I will be publishing a couple of the answers as I have really benefitted from the wonderful answers over the last 6 weeks.
I am interested in these answers because I am in the process of preparing a speech to 1,600 undergraduates who are on the point of transition between the world of university and the world of work and building a career.
Lesley’s Answer: What An Independent Consultant Would Say
Your question stimulated a rather interesting ponder over a glass of wine listening to the waves in Cartagena! This is what I’d tell my younger self, but it definitely wouldn’t apply to everyone…
- People (clients, bosses etc) are more influenced by what you say about yourself than you might think so learn the art of self-promotion as quickly as possible and don’t rely on the quality of your work to speak for you.
- View feedback as potentially interesting information about yourself and the person giving it (not personal criticism).
- Individual differences between people are even greater than you think so learn some tools to help you make sense of those differences as quickly as possible (especially MBTI) so you can handle people as they need/want to be handled.
- Perfection is unnecessary and unattainable.
- It’s not cheating to play to your strengths and delegate/pass on the other stuff to people who are better at it. There are actually people who enjoy the routine stuff and they’re worth their weight in gold!. Be in ‘the flow’ as much as possible (ref Csikszentmihalyi).
- But the devil IS often in the detail, so you’re right not to try to wing it!
- Trust your intuition even if it’s hard to put into words how you know and you can’t back it up with hard evidence.
Years ago I went to see John Harvey-Jones speak and someone asked him the same question. I loved his surprising reply: “The shits always get theirs”. I’ve seen quite a few bullies rise up through corporate structures and unscrupulous individuals riding rough shod over people but sooner or later they have generally been derailed. So I’m delighted to say that I agree with him.
Sadly, I’m not sure any of the foregoing will help get any young Catalans/Spaniards into work. What I’d say to them is “Learn good English, think more about delighting customers and before trying to get funding for a big idea, get hands-on experience in a small business that makes and/or sells things to learn about business basics like cash flow, margins and understanding the customer.” Working in my Mum’s greasy spoon as a teenager was a great preparation for running my own consultancy!