Finding our niche in a particular industry, or field of work, is not as simple as the glossy pictures of successful people in trendy magazines may have intimated over the years of our schooling and postgraduate training. Despite our best (or worst) efforts to emerge from school and/or university as ‘viable citizens of planet earth’ (i.e. able to contribute significantly to society and earn a living), we can often eagerly enter the work place only to discover that we have TONS more to learn. Sometimes about the work we need to do. More often about office politics, the organisational culture and ‘how to ACTUALLY please one’s boss’. In short, we need to figure out what our superiors and colleagues actually want from us. And this experience can be rather deflating and daunting…
You see, having the general know-how and skill-set to do a particular job does not mean the process of applying all of it will be a simple matter. Sometimes, on our first, or even three hundred and sixty five thousandth day at work, we are confronted with what we ‘lack’, which can leave us in quite a flurry.
Because work is not just about US, or OUR contributions. In fact, it can often be more about OTHER people and what they think about what we do than anything else. Does the industry like what we have to offer? Does the organisation for which we work value our contributions as much as we do? Do people actually like us?
Take this infographic above, for example. Someone felt it necessary to even go as far as drawing pictures and creating bullet points for ‘Millennials’ for them to better understand what they might be misunderstanding about perceptions of their awesomeness in the workplace.
In short, work is much like a season of the reality TV show, Survivor, where getting the job done the way you learned to do it may well earn you brownie points, or get you voted off at the next Tribal Council for being a ‘cocky Mr(s) Know-It-All’! In fact, in one year you may get a whole plate of brownies, whereas, in the next, the same approach may just ‘get you gone’.
Take heart though, because in every work situation, there is always coffee, fellow goofballs that also seem to be a few steps behind the game with you, and, in South Africa, that definite sense of ‘do or die’ (because we have limited government funding to support us should we not work) that can spark an entrepreneurial spirit into even the most Millennial-type of souls. And two-minute noodles. Thanks to China, we will always have two-minute noodles for our survival…