What advice would you give to your younger self?

In a recent conversation with a colleague, we were talking about the value of experience and what it gives to us as Project Managers for our ‘gut instinct’. This really got me thinking and I wanted to expand on this topic during this blog post.

Experience is such a valuable tool that really gives you an unique advantage against your peers. One colleague that I used to work with, said that they wanted the hardest projects that the company had so that they could learn as much as they could within a short time frame and use all of their experience to the companies advantage.

On Twitter, I asked my followers: What advice would you give your younger self? and I had some great feedback and dialogue.

@Projectsdoctor recommends: “Be yourself, don’t try to be someone else. Be useful in whatever you decide to do. Treat all people with respect. Be honest. Take time every week to appreciate what you have “

@RaymondPoole1 says: ” Simple, don’t put your “Professional self” before your “Personal self”, life is too short to be consumed by chasing PDUs & TLAs rather chase FDUs (Family Development Units) and live more in the moment, forget being busy 80hrs per week rather be productive 40hrs #LiveInTheMoment

@StephanieJaeg10 suggests: ” Believe in yourself, don’t let people’s comments hold you back, get rid of toxic people in your life. You can achieve much more than you think! “

Twitter post

I also asked colleagues around the coffee machine, what advice they’d give and here’s a few of their recommendations:

  • Listen! You cannot listen enough to learn about a subject or situation. Also, don’t forget to keep your eyes open to understand dynamics as they occur
  • Keep learning and developing yourself. Take your career into your own hands and go in the direction that you want to go. You want to code in CSS rather than Javascript? Learn how to do it!
  • Keep on trying: You will fail, you will not always succeed. Don’t feel rejected by your defeats but learn from them!
  • Don’t presume that people know what they’re doing/ understand their role. Sometimes, they do and sometimes they really do not! Investigate and learn who knows what they’re talking about and who could use a little training themselves!
  • Don’t be afraid of moving on to get ahead: I had a lot of fear about switching jobs/leaving my company with the aim of getting ahead. It set me back a few years as I was too worried about the company rather than my own career.

My recommendation is: “Realise your potential and true ability when it comes your job”. One thing that I often see as being a limit to someone’s potential is themselves or not being certain about their ability to handle a situation/ event.

The next question is often: how do I get this experience? You gain experience every day that you are working in projects (this can be both official and unofficial projects). As a Junior PM, I learnt so much from my senior peers for how to do things (or how NOT to in some cases!). Every day and every working experience is an opportunity to learn and I recommend that you take the time on a regular basis to do a recap of:

  • What have I learnt in the past week/month/quarter?
  • How can I use this knowledge to benefit my career?
  • What do I need to do to improve further?
  • What other opportunities could there be in the near future?

What advice would you give yourself? What has been the biggest learning experience for you?

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