Learning from books is valuable but will only get you so far in life. The “school of hard knocks” is an effective teacher, and offers different lessons than in the halls of academia. Both sets of lessons are valuable and even necessary in the workplace. Here are some hard-knock lessons that universities should consider adding to the curriculum:
1. Communication is a difficult skill to learn.
People talk all of the time, but communication and talking are two different things. Communication takes thought, focus and energy. If you wish to communicate effectively, you must consider the needs of the other person or people. You must learn to listen so you can respond to them effectively. Talk may be cheap, but real communication is a skill that requires paying attention to and even caring about the people to whom you are speaking.
2. Blaming others won’t solve your problems.
Blaming other people, organizations, or situations for your problems is a waste of time and energy. Blame solves nothing; however, blame may break down connections and breed bad feeling, making the existing problems even worse.
3. Thinking creatively will help you find solutions to problems.
On the other hand, approaching a problem from the angle “how can I fix this?” may result in numerous ideas. Try them out, see if any of them work. Learn to brainstorm instead of saying “no, that will never work” to every new idea you hear. Just because co-workers say, “but we’ve always done it this way!” does not mean their way of doing things is good. Likely, it can be improved upon.
Looking for the causes of problems is different from assigning blame. You may look for a cause in order to address the problem and fix it. Blame is an end in itself; blame is intended to single out a scapegoat.
We can approach the cause of our problems without expending energy on blame and scapegoating. For example, let’s say you are late to work because one person in your carpool is often late. Spending energy on blame won’t make him on time, and it may create bad feelings between the two of you. You may lose a valuable ally and never even know it.
However, if this guy is the reason you are often late, recognize the cause of the problem. How can you fix it? You can’t change him, but you could take the bus, drive yourself, or find some other way to get yourself to work on time.
Tell Us What You Think
What is the most important life lesson you wish you’d learned in school? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.