Michael Baer's Stratecution Stories

"Strategy is overrated. We have a strategic plan. It's called doing things". – Herb Kelleher

Day One – How treating everyday like your first day can be a good thing

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” Seneca

“The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings than endings” David Weinbaum

We’ve all started new jobs, been transferred to new departments, moved on to new teams. The mixture of feelings can go from overwhelmed, to exhilarated, to everything in between. But, above all else, is that “new job feeling.” Everything feels new, a little weird, and a bit difficult to understand. We all know that feeling doesn’t last. However, there are a lot of benefits from learning from it – and trying to hold on to some of your early behaviors for the long haul.

Take time to Learn and Understand
From the first, it can feel like you’re drinking from the proverbial firehose. There’s so much to read, know, and learn. There are benefits, processes, office layouts. New bosses, management structures, politics. There’s business info, industry news, new Clients. It makes sense for you to read, distill, and seek understanding, before you begin to jump to conclusions. Before you start to act and react.

This can be instructive for day one and day one-thousand.  Once we’ve been in a job for a while, we begin to “know” a lot. We develop assumptions that can help us quickly understand and assess situations. But these assumptions also may cause us to react overly quickly to situations without fully understanding them first. Or to treat them as analogous to past situations, instead of fully understanding the contextual differences. So, the way you act on day one can be helpful – don’t react. First, seek understanding.

Give people the benefit of the doubt
When you start a new job, you don’t know anyone. You have no preconceptions or assumptions about people. Everyone is someone who can help you. Everyone knows more than you do. So you can learn from everyone.

Now think about the way you approach people when you’ve been in your job for a long time. There a people you avoid, people you groan when you have to deal with, people you cut off in mid-sentence because you don’t expect them to add value. Think about how it might be if, instead, you treated people as you did on day one – that you can get help and value from everyone. This might be a game-changer. Give it a shot.

Pass and Play defense
I’ve long said that the way to behave at the beginning of a new job is to pass and play defense, first. What do I mean by that? Well, first of all, don’t look to score points. You’re not expected to – nor should you want to, yet. Start with the fundamentals. Listen, be respectful, be smart, ask a lot of questions. And defer to the current starting team.

But also think about what passing and playing defense does. It makes everyone else better. It’s not about you or your statistics. It’s about helping everyone else win. That should be your goal on day one. And day one-thousand.

Stay wide-eyed
Like I said, the beginning of a new job can be overwhelming. There’s so much new, so much unknown, you can get a little goggle-eyed. This feels like a handicap that you can’t wait to unload. However, there’s something about this overwhelmed feeling that isn’t bad – it prevents jaded-ness. You can’t be blasé, bored or ho-hum. And that can be a good thing. So often, once we’ve done a job for a while, we can let ourselves get complacent and matter-of-fact. So I think staying wide-eyed actually might be a good thing.

Can you treat your long-term job as if you just started over? I doubt it. But try to keep some of this in mind as you go through your day-to-day-to-day. It might keep it fresh, keep you productive, and keep your relationships strong. Let me know what you think. (Full disclosure: I started a new job yesterday)

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5 responses to “Day One – How treating everyday like your first day can be a good thing

  1. Manage Better Now January 24, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    First and foremost, good luck with the new job! Your enthusiasm and passion are never stonger than on your first day. If you can find ways to keep that passion going then you will likely always be happy. That advice also applies to non work relationships. Take some flowers home tonight, just because.

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  2. Sara Martin January 24, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    Love this post! To your point about keeping the learning process engaged as part of your daily responsibilities — sometimes I’m reluctant to do this because, in my head, it’s not work. It’s preparation for work. So I tend to ignore it thinking I’ll be more productive over all. But, really, that just stresses me out and ultimately handicaps my efforts to improve. So thanks for the reminder to make time for learning our jobs even when we “know” them.

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  3. stratecutionstories January 24, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Thanks, Sara. Stress can handcuff us, for sure. Let’s try to let it motivate us instead…

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  4. Kioko Dawson January 25, 2012 at 6:19 AM

    Great post! It always surprises me when even our new people come in jaded and cynical. Your suggestions can help avoid those attitudes for old and new alike. Great reminder that we can be in control of our own professional happiness to a point. Best of luck at your new gig!

    Like

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