Well, I don’t want to be smug, but “I told you so!”
A recent survey has just proved what we’ve known (and been saying repeatedly to our students) for some time: having the right attitude is step one in achieving your goals.
Students, on the whole, are very good at lots of things. Looking at the results of the survey, I was surprised that “learning” didn’t feature in the top 5, but I’m willing to bet it must have been close. Still the chart-toppers were very encouraging, as they represent a selection of strengths essential for professional development and creating a satisfying career for yourself. You can read the full article in HR magazine, but here’s the highlight:
Out of the 60 strengths tested for by the survey, students’ top five skills were: taking pride in their work, problem solving, being true to themselves, building relationships and having a sense of humour. They were weakest in: resilience, time optimisation, showing courage at overcoming their fears, taking risks, and making themselves the centre of attention.
But then let’s focus on the ones students don’t seem to have in abundance. I would argue that three of them are completely down to attitude and very much inter-related. Being resilient in the face of knock-backs, being brave enough to stretch your comfort zone by doing things that scare you and being willing to go out on a limb sometimes. Why are these so hard?
Maybe it’s all about failure – and the fact that most of our students haven’t had much practice in it! All through school, you’ve probably had great grades and been among the top academic performers, so you’re not used to being wrong. Sure, it’s nice to be right, but it can’t happen all the time. Everyone makes mistakes. Not only is this normal, it’s also truly a great learning opportunity and the best ever stimulus to improve. And this makes it something you can use positively in work.
Once you step outside the world of education, where there are “correct answers” to be found and marked, you start to notice that the line between right and wrong is no longer as clear as you once thought. It shifts like a sand dune in the wind: opinions push you in one direction, options pull another and all the while new obstacles grow right in front of you. The right thing to do is just to keep moving.
You need to try things that are new and different, even if you can’t be sure of the outcome. If you don’t try, you’ll never know what could have been. Just remember those strengths which can help you as you explore and put them to good use. Take pride in what you’re striving for, believe in yourself and stick to your guns, take support and encouragement from those around you and trust in your ability to find a solution, whatever the world throws at you. And if it all goes wrong, at least you’ve still got your sense of humour.