Lessons learned

I find meeting with university students to be one of my most rewarding experiences. Their enthusiasm and desire to understand the realities of the professional world are infectious. To ease their post-college journey, I've developed 12 tools to take to work that I wish someone had shared with me when I was their age.

1. Don't feel entitled. The world doesn't owe us a living. The sooner we take responsibility for success and happiness, the sooner we will switch from blame to taking action.

2. Establish meaningful relationships. Teamwork is often the key to success, whether at school or at work.

3. Make a good first impression. We employ marketing techniques every day with our families, friends and colleagues. We rarely make a poor first impression on someone on purpose. But sometimes we forget to try. We try to present our value proposition in most meetings, and at some level, eventually we brand ourselves with a positive identity.

4. Support your supervisor or leave. When we least want to talk to our bosses is the most important time to knock on their doors. The individuals we dislike are often the ones from whom we can learn the most by engaging in honest, respectful dialogue. Don't run from adversity.

5. Respect others. Gossip and negativity create disunity, reflect poorly on our characters and drain our energy when we need it the most. There will always be something to complain about.

6. You don't always have to be right. Co-workers who disagree with us aren't necessarily stupid. Other people usually want to succeed, too. Their values and perspective might just differ from ours. There isn't always a right and wrong way. Seek to understand other people's points of view and find win-win solutions.

7. Avoid negative behavior patterns. It is much easier to destroy than construct.

8. Expect difficulties. Overcoming challenges is the door to professional advancement and personal growth.

9. Seek out a mentor. Those with more experience than us can help us find our way and help us navigate through challenges.

10. Never lose hope. You can make a difference. Take pride in your abilities. One person can change the course of a class, a project or an entire nation. Seek out positive people when you're discouraged.

11. Concentrate on making a difference today. Each moment contains the past and the future. What is important is that we do our best today. That will set the course for the results we seek tomorrow.

12. Learn from your mistakes and especially from the mistakes of others.

Lisagor founded Celerity Works LLC in 1999 to help information technology organizations accelerate and manage their business growth. He is program co-chairman for the November 2004 E-Gov Program Management Summit. He lives on Bainbridge Island, Wash., and can be reached at lisagor@celerityworks.com.

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