The Glory of the First
The HR Doctor is pleased to
share with you a journey of the mind activity which will
very likely make you smile. It may also give you pause for
reflection on the past and thoughtful consideration of how to
make your future brighter.
A journey of the mind is a
technique invented by Albert Einstein that involves the
unleashing of a powerful imagination to put yourself in a
particular setting and consider the results.
In Einsteins case, it might
have been a rocket leaving earth and traveling faster and
faster toward the speed of light. What followed was
consideration of what would happen to the relative lengths of
time for the earths inhabitants versus the crew of the rocket
ship. However, in your case and my case, recollection of the
events of high school physics is not at all suggested in order
to read on.
Imagine that it is once
again your first day at your first professional job. Imagine
the excitement, the anticipation and possibly the fear or
terror that went through your mind as you crossed the doorway
threshold into that workplace.
What it must have been like
to meet all of those new colleagues and to consider the first
impressions they made on you and the first impressions you
left behind. Perhaps youve forgotten their names, perhaps you
said something that later made you slap yourself silly
considering how dumb the comment was.
Perhaps you met a new mentor
or friend you could turn to, to ask questions of major or tiny
import. The beautiful HR Daughter Elyse recently changed
county jobs and is now administrative manager at the gigantic
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, which is part
of county government. On her first day she was asked to attend
a meeting in the main conference room. Her response was,
Gladly, wheres the main conference room?
Think about your evening at
home after that first day at work. Was the initial fear and
anxiety reduced by the calm support of new colleagues? How
might you be greeted on the morning of the second day at
As you entered the workplace
on day two, would people giggle and turn away from you because
of something you might have said or done the day before? Or
would they continue a positive orientation and perhaps assign
meaningful and important work to you?
Now fast-forward to wherever
you currently are in your career. Many of the readers of the
HR Doctor articles are mid- and senior-level professionals.
You may be a decade or two into your work. You may even have
titles that impress neighbors, relatives and your dog titles
such as assistant deputy under-director in the Department of
Redundancy Department (sorry Monty Python!).
For you, it is particularly
valuable to quietly recollect the events and emotions of those
first days at work. Perhaps youve lost some of the zeal and
excitement associated with your career. Perhaps it is time to
realize that and take steps to regain the excitement and
challenge to perform and contribute that are characteristic of
those early career moments.
Perhaps the time has come to
realize that the employee who just walked into your office,
interrupting your concentrated reading of this very article,
may, in fact, be the latest iteration of a brand new
first-dayer, just like you were. Perhaps you can be as great
a mentor to that person as your first mentor was to you.
Perhaps you can be better. Put yourself in that persons
shoes, high heels or work boots and take some extra time to
show them where the main conference room is or to give them
the encouragement that is directly associated with the
wonderful gift of confidence building.
Perhaps for yourself it is
time to seek a new challenge. Seek a challenge that will
rejuvenate your workplace spirit and help you return to
consciousness in case you have been drifting slowly toward a
coma for the last several months or years, feeling that the
work is increasingly repetitive and boring.
The glory of the first days
can become the model for the recharging of your own internal
batteries. In the huge majority of cases, the opportunities to
plug in and recharge can be found right in your own
Perhaps the battery charger
can be your boss when you visit that person in a quiet moment
and ask for the chance to work on a different project or play
a different role in the organization. Perhaps it will be the
opportunity to help a colleague with a project that you know
is a struggle for her. Perhaps it can be in improving your
public speaking and presentation skills.
In a minority of cases,
coming to life and recapturing a bygone excitement may require
a job change. The effects of years of erosion of the soul may
require a new adventure. Perhaps a move across the country or
across the street, perhaps a periodic adventure like an
African safari to bring a long-held dream to life may be just
the ticket to plug in the recharger.
Changing jobs may not be
necessary. Changing attitudes may be essential. One strong,
positive attitude changing machine is to become an active
volunteer in a charitable organization supporting a cause you
believe in. Perhaps that work on your off-duty time may help
your own perspective grow. There is something compelling about
touring United Way agencies, for example, that help women or
kids in distress, or support research and treatment of breast
cancer or HIV-AIDS to give you a boarder appreciation of how
damn lucky you probably are as you read this article. Involve
and engage family members in the volunteer activity for an
even greater, more meaningful experience.
Remembering the joy and
excitement of a first experience in the past gives you a
first-class ticket to a more positive future.