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Things I have learnt throughout my career

Blog | By Mary Clifton | May 20, 2020

Picture by KVDP

Step 1

Make the most of your education, whatever work you choose to do, it is the best foundation you can have.

Step 2

Who really knows what they want to do at 16, 18 or 22 but you know at least if you are more interested in how people work than how things work so start there. I almost literally found my calling and degree by incorporating the word ‘social’ when looking at universities it was the best and most fortunate choice I made in my life, other than my husband. But if it doesn’t feel right then change, don’t just settle for it.

Step 3

Ensure you love what you do, embrace it with a passion that comes from your heart and apply with the intellect from the brain you were blessed with. You will think you know more than you do, you have the enthusiasm and energy of the young, but take time to listen and learn from colleagues. My first boss set the foundations of best practice for me and 40 years on, they remain with me to share with others.

Step 4

Don’t be in too much of a hurry to progress up the ladder.Ground yourself in experience, sideway moves are often the best road map for progression. Stay true to yourself and your professional values. Always strive to do the best you can. Sometimes you might fail, this will be the best learning opportunity. Learn from it. Apply the learning. Improve on it.

Step 5

Always be courteous to your colleagues, associates, customers, everyone. The grace of good manners is free but the goodwill it creates spreads far.

Never take credit for work you haven’t completed on your own. Always acknowledge the contribution of others.Always say please and thank you. Ideally in person, not by email or text.

Humour and laughter is a good thing, but not at the expense of hurting others. Be mindful.

If you agree to do something then do it within the timescale agreed. If you think you won’t then identify and agree a new, realistic but challenging timescale to ensure you do completethe task.

If you are complimented don’t brush it off, try to say a simple thank you. If you feel criticised don’t be afraid to ask what you might do better, use criticism to learn even if initially it feels hurtful.

Participate in meetings, otherwise why are you there, but also make sure you listen to others.After all, as they say, and it is true, “ there is no I in teams”.

Never lose your temper, shout or swear at colleagues. If you do then you are at fault not them. Lead by example.Speak to others and treat others as you wish to be spoken to and treated.maintain your personal and professional integrity at all times.

Step 5

Rejoice in progress, even if it is the smallest step, it is still progress.

If you are in the service business try to put yourself in the customers shoes at least once a day. Never lose sight that it is your responsibility to support them whatever their issue.

Step 6

Often the most challenging- be kind to yourself, try to stay mindful of your well being. It is the hardest thing to do to give to others if you are running on empty. Exhaustion whether physical or emotional and long hours rarely produces positive outcomes. Step back, breathe, take time to reflect, take a break, then come back with a clear brain and refreshed perspective. Talk to a colleague, your partner, a friend, don’t be afraid to ask for support yourself.

At the end of your life you are most unlikely to wish you had spent more time at work!

Step 7

When the time comes to step back from your career, if you love it as I do, it will be the most difficult thing.Find ways to utilise what you have learnt, your skills, your experience in other ways and at your own pace. There will always be something new to learn. No experience is wasted.

Look back with pride in all that you did. Try not to regret, let regrets go.

In conclusion…….

The only way you will know if I achieved all this is to ask those I worked with but I hope it is not so far from the truth.

I remain proud to be a Registered Professional Social Worker, lucky enough to have found a career I loved and still love andwhich I turned out to be not too shabby at.

Not bad for a North Yorkshire lass from a small farm in a small village near a small town who at the age of 16 thought she wanted to be a Physiotherapist for Man Utd.!