- A Level Head -
by fergus mellon
I know that being an ESP is tough. It is a key reason why Early Stage Professional: starting off right exists! The job is a grind, you feel out of your depth, you are making errors despite being over qualified for the role, you are figuring it all out and to top it all off are living on a tight budget.
That said, don't let this get to you. Careers really do get better the more experienced you become and it is important to stay positive as this will help you get through the early years and out of them in great mental shape. There is a host of research on how positive thinking is the key to a happier and more contented life (if you don't believe me do a web search on the power of positive thinking and see for yourself and also read Emotional Intelligence at Work by Hendrie Weisinger if you are particularly interested in this topic). In addition it will really help you in your career. Being positive and having a "can do" attitude are behaviors that managers seek in individuals at all stages of their careers.
When I say "stay positive", what I am really saying is that if you have a tough day, view it as that; a tough day. If you had a tough one, I really recommend not bringing a negative attitude into the office the next day as everyone will pick up on it. Use the evening to calm down and if you can talk through the issue with a neutral party (friend or family outside of the office) do it so that you can come back into the office the next day with a positive attitude.
A big benefit of being able to bounce back from a tough day is that your manager will single you out as someone who is resilient and has the right personality traits to grow in his or her team. On the other hand, if you get to be thought of as a negative person, in addition to being someone who others do not want to work with, you will also likely be tarred with the "Negative Nancy" brush which will harm your upward mobility (and this will likely make you even more miserable!).
The reason that staying positive is so important is that there really are very few good professional jobs that are easy (I can't think of any right now, although I am sure there are some for the lucky few!) and being able to work through challenges is something that everyone needs as a skill in order to move up the career ladder. If you are the "Debbie Downer" who spreads doom and gloom across the team, sooner or later (and it is more likely sooner as it is so easy to spot the negative types) you will be busted. When you are busted you are very likely going to be assigned to the "low potential" bucket until you have proven that you have been able to work through this issue.
So instead of adopting a negative tone, jump in: be fearless and keep the positive attitude. The worst you can be is wrong or make a mistake, but if you do make mistakes while working in a positive way your managers and those around you will generally support you. A "can do" and positive person is one who most people enjoy working with. As a result they build strong relationships with others and so are given more and more opportunity to shine. It really is a true virtuous circle, where the more positive you are, the better you will do, the better you will do the more opportunity to succeed you will be given and that will make you happier (aka more positive) which will mean... yes, you guessed it you get even more opportunity! Once I have identified truly positive and resilient individuals I will give them more and more opportunities at work. I will give the positive person the challenging projects because I know that they will rise to the occasion and not get depressed by challenges. As a result these individuals will get the experiences that allow them to move their careers forward and succeed.
Being a "Depressing Denise" will also be a re-enforcing move. The more negative you are, the less opportunity you will be given which means??? Yes, you guessed it you will be even more unhappy!
Being positive is not about being a "yes man", it is about being "can do". Do it. Love it. Show that you are loving it!
Next section: Basic Money Management
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