It would be rare indeed to find the person reading this that has held the same job all their life. Nearly everyone started out mowing lawns, babysitting, bussing tables and other starter jobs. Then moved on to other possessions before settling in.
In every job, even those very first ones, you learned something you carried with you. I had one person tell me they are a good boss because in their first position, they had a terrible, mean boss and it stayed with them to this day. So good or bad, you’ve brought a lesson with you.
It’s true people who do what we do should have some terrific time-tested advice. After all, they understand your role exactly. But, it is also true people who don’t do what we do can have some terrific advice. There is a commonality among professions from dealing with the public to dealing with stress or meeting deadlines. They may not do what you do- but they may do things in a way that would help you.
Take a Peek at These 8 Lessons
There are some great lessons to be learned from people in jobs other than you own.
- Teacher- If you ever feel you can’t get everything done on your list, turn to a teacher for advice. They have the market on structure. Not only do they have to fit many lessons in a given day, but they have to fit portions of the curriculum into given time periods. By the end of the term, the student has to be prepared to move on.
If you are a procrastinator, keep in mind teachers can’t do that. They must get to everything their student needs. They don’t just map out a day or a week; they map out the entire term. They have divided and subdivided the material so it gets covered in the available classes.
The take away- Set a goal and divide the tasks up between now and your goal so you know they will get done on time.
- Reporter- No matter if you get your news in print, online or on TV, there is one thing you will notice. You’ve never seen a blank spot. There isn’t a newspaper with a white box in the middle of the page. There’s not a blog with a white spot where the story was to go and there isn’t a TV news show running just their logo for 3 minutes.
Reporters have to get the job done. They can’t have a blank space at show time. This is where all those W’s come in handy – Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. They make a list of questions for interviews and outline articles. In other words, they hold themselves accountable.
The take away- Do your homework. Make a list of what you need to know or acquire for a project. Collect the info and data. Be prepared.
- Dog Groomer- Grrr. Not everyone wants to deal with you. Some people are prickly when you try to approach them or work with them and you aren’t even going after them with an electric razor! Did you ever think about how a dog groomer manages to shave a dog and remove painful knots from a dog they don’t know? Keep in mind there are really big teeth involved and only one of the two talks. One of the things they do is stop rushing and take a bit of time to chat with the dog and gently pet them. They offer some treats and make friends.
The take away- Stop rushing so much. Take a few minutes to make eye contact with coworkers or customers. Get to know them. Offer compliments to things they do right. Be a friend.
- Chef- If you ever think everyone seems to want something from you all at the same time, then you should be a chef. The restaurant is packed and orders keep pouring in. You can’t just stop and pull your hair out in frustration (well you can but then it would get in the food and that is another story.) There is a good reason chefs practice mise en place, a French term for having everything in its place. Before a food service, each item is prepared to be cooked. Vegetables are washed and chopped. Sauces and dressings are made. The meat is butchered into serving portions. The kitchen is organized so everything has a home.
The take away- The workday doesn’t begin when you get an order. The workday begins long before that when you take time to prepare for your work. Line up everything you need and get it organized so you can grab it and get going.
- IT Expert – You’re frantic as you realize your hard drive is fried or a virus isn’t letting you access any files. Oh my gosh! What will I do, you think. You pick up the phone and call your IT expert or computer fix-it shop. Imagine if they said “Oh, I know what you mean but I can’t help you as mine is wrecked too.” Now surely that does happen but for the most part, the IT guy keeps his system in tip-top shape. There are the appropriate programs for virus protection, maintenance is run and passwords are complicated and changed often- just to name a few things. In other words, the IT person does what they tell you to do.
The take away- Practice what you preach. Do things the way you know they should be done. Don’t just talk a good talk. Walk the walk.
- Dry Cleaner- You drop of 6 shirts, 3 trousers, one skirt and a comforter stained with puppy footprints. Hopefully you pick up 6 shirts, 3 trousers, one skirt and a clean comforter. Every day, hour by hour, people pop in and out of the cleaners leaving this and that. It would be so easy to turn it into scrambled eggs and have everyone get the wrong thing. Fortunately for us, they are so organized. They have a routine for accepting clothes, labeling them and storing them.
The take away- Have a system for your work. Develop good practices and stick to them so you can easily find what you need at all times.
- Big Box Store Greeter- I could have almost kissed the man with the vest at the door of the home improvement store. There is no way I would know where to find the widget I’d been sent to get. The greeting and the help meant a lot. Big box stores can be really impersonal experiences yet many have found a way to make things personal.
The take away- Make things personal. Greet people. Look at them. Ask them if they found everything. Ask if you can do anything else for them. Go beyond asking a coworker how they are by asking how their day went. Getting personal means making connections that will pay off in so many ways.
- Gardener- Working in a garden center, you’d think the job ends when you sell the plants. A good nursery worker will move beyond getting your plants and add lots of info. They will tell you if the plants are for sun or shade, are annuals or perennials. They can tell you how far apart to plant them, how tall they will grow and how much water they will need. If you leave with only the plants, you may or may not have plants later. If your plants die, you likely won’t go back to that nursery even if the plants’ demise was your fault. If you leaved armed with info, you might just grow a green thumb and return next spring.
The take away- Go the extra mile. Don’t do the bare minimum. Like the gardener, provide all the help and info you can.
Reach out beyond your peers and you may find lessons to help you succeed. Along the way, your circle will expand. Education comes in many forms. Look around you for some.