The most important skills people can have at work are a positive attitude and capable mindset. This post covers advice I’ve learned and adopted through reading, podcast listening and youtube watching. It’s broken up into two sections: mind and skills, with recommendations for additional learning at the end of each tip.
1. Recognize the power of your mind
At the end of a guided meditation on his Waking Up app, Sam Harris says, “You only really have your mind. It is the basis of everything you experience. To understand it deeply, not as a matter of theory but directly, can be the most important thing you ever learn to do.” I began meditating in 2017 because of how many people spoke about its benefits. It teaches you that stress, frustration, anxiety, etc. are passing emotions and you’ll gain skills to recognize them instead of letting them rule you. A calm mind improves decision making, allowing you to operate at your best.
2. Realize that you have the power to choose your state
In a previous post, I called this “purposeful positivity” (#6). You can come to work tired, bored, counting down the minutes until 5PM or excited, optimistic and ready to learn. The choice is yours. People want to work with positive, uplifting people. Choose to be one and great things happen.
3. Think in terms of success or opportunities to learn. There is no such thing as failure.
When I was a CBRE intern nine years ago, I participated in a mock pitch in front of senior management. When it was my turn to speak, I forgot my words and my team lost the competition. While I don’t exactly remember what my self-talk was that late August afternoon, it more closely resembled, “I’m such an idiot” than, “This is a great opportunity to improve my skills.” Back then, at 20 years old, I still thought in terms of failure, which lead me to avoid public speaking rather than taking classes or reading about social anxiety (that would come later.) I only started thinking that everything is either a success or a learning opportunity last year; it’s the best mental switch I’ve made.
4. Become self-aware
People often ask me for job advice. I redirect the conversation to their interests and personality. You want to work in an environment that is most suited to your nature. This will make work more fun, because you will be doing something that comes naturally to you.
5. Develop foundational skills
I listened to a podcast this week between Naval Ravikant and Joe Rogan. On the show Naval commented that, “10 years ago people would have laughed you out of the room if you told them you were going to be a professional podcaster, professional video gamer or a professional commentator of video games.” Point being – it’s impossible to know what the future will look like. However, having basic skills such as public speaking, writing, persuasion, math and computer programming will set you up well. Master the basics. There are infinite resources via books, articles and classes that can help do this.
6. Make offers to help
What will separate you from your peers is making offers to help. Your offers should be specific; in my industry that could be, “I notice that you spend a lot of time researching tenants before e-mailing them, what if I did the research so you can focus more on calling existing clients and prospects?” Look for solutions. This won’t come right away and when beginning a career just offering to help is great, but you should gain a holistic understanding of the job and find specific ways to add value.
No book recommendation, but it works.
The most successful people in the world read. Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey. Make it a habit. I was an English and Political Science major at Amherst College yet rarely did the required reading. Today I read mostly non-fiction, but there are benefits to reading whatever interests you.
Most of this advice is simple but not easy. I’m sharing what’s worked for me over the past three years of developing my mind and attitude. They are little things that make a BIG difference at work.