Think about what happens when you accept a new job offer. You’ve met your boss, been given a job description, met the team and learned about the company culture. You have your experience and your skills, so you know how to do the job. It looks like things will be great. But, will everything, in fact, be great? You don’t know until you get started or until you have been there a while. All the experience in the world won’t help you predict the road ahead.
I compare it to offroading, a hobby that my husband loves to do. He’s a skilled driver and he knows what he is doing. He understands the features and limitations of every vehicle before he starts it. As for me, I have a lot of skills in life and off-roading is not one of them. I prefer to ride shotgun.
Not everyone has the stomach to sit next to my husband while he drives, but after almost 6 years of marriage, I know him well enough to know that he knows what he is doing, so I’ve been known to take a nap at times while out riding in our UTV.
But just like a job, with offroading, you have your experience, your skill set, you have a map, and perhaps you have ridden the trails before and know them inside and out. Even so, you have to take into account the weather and how a lot of rain will affect the road. Or, on the flip side, if it hasn’t rained, you have to consider a dusty terrain. It is important to either keep tools with you and equipment, should you get stuck, or travel in a pack, so that you have help when you need it.
That’s the thing about new jobs. You’ve met the people and seen the territory, but on your first day, you are exploring. You can try to predict what will happen, but you have to be in store for anything. You need to be prepared for surprises.
Companies and their cultures are ecosystems. They are living and breathing communities of a variety of people and circumstances, which is not only employees, but also clients. Everyone serves a different function in your ecosystem. What you can’t predict is mother nature. Things happen.
People are dynamic. Individuals possess their own personalities, temperaments and views on the world. Businesses operate according to people and machines, including computers. Machines may unexpectedly break, or not work how they are supposed to. It may happen the same day that you are dealing with a large order or a large project. Again, things happen.
If you are beginning a new job, it is how you deal with changes in your environment that will play a vital role in your success.
Comparing it to offroading, I remember that we had a lot of rain over the last summer and we expected a lot of mud at a nearby off-road park, more than usual. I brought changes of clothes, water, and snacks. Again, my husband knew the terrain and has ridden through mud before. The hard part for riders is predicting how deep a mud hole is. You have to guess. We ride alone a lot of the time because the few times we have gotten stuck, it has been easy to hook ourselves on a tree and get out.
This particular day, it was a road that my husband traveled often and we saw a wide lake of mud, but the mud didn’t look that deep. After only a few moments, we were inevitably very, very stuck. The problem was all the trees were quite far from us in order to hook ourselves onto and even then, it was doubtful that it was going to get us far. But, what are you going to do? Sit? Cry? Feel sorry for yourself? Then why would you off-road in the first place?
My 6’2” tall husband got out and the mud was almost to his waste as he waded around, hooking us to a tree. Suddenly, 3 ATV riders showed up and asked if he needed help. After watching my husband help many other riders get unstuck or even fixing a few flat tires, it was the first time I heard him say, “yeah.” The man jumped off his ATV, walked over to us and said, “So you got a little stuck did ya?”
It took 4 men, a tow cable, a large branch, our UTV and their ATV, but we got out.
When you are starting a new job, by all means, be prepared and do your research. The most important thing is to be ready for anything. Be agile. Be “light on your feet.” Act quickly. Be ready for anything.
In any company culture, it certainly helps to have some friends along the way in your career. If you were referred and already know someone, that is great. If you everyone on your team is new to you, be a team player and make some friends. Perhaps you think you are fine on your own, and you know it all. But always keep in mind that you never know when an emergency will arise or when you will need some help from a “Good Samaritan.” So be kind and be willing to help your teammates. It will make all the difference in a successful career.
Remember friends to pay it forward.
“If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes.” - John Wooden
Follow the author, Allison Sima, on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/allisonsima