Humility, Honesty and Hard Work are the Keys to Early Career Success

Formal education at the college level provides intense and specific study and lays the foundation for success. Exposure to trained instructors and professors combined with demanding workloads teaches critical skills.

Unfortunately, formal education won’t fully prepare younger professionals for the real business environment. Young professionals encounter new and unique cultures in business.
Specific job duties, office rules, and politics can be hard to understand. Every business has its unique characteristics. It’s easy to get frustrated and discouraged.

Untested young professionals as new members in a business office may find tasks to be tedious and tangible rewards hard to discern. However, the early years of a career are critical, and they need to be viewed realistically and managed with an awareness of practical expectations.

That’s why humility, hard work, and honesty are crucial keys to success at work and in life.

1. Humility: First and foremost practice humility. It’s more important to learn, absorb and observe than to critique. Most managers and peers love to teach and mentor people with a humble desire to learn a new skill. Many young professionals have strong preconceived notions and unwittingly lack humility. The humble young professional quietly shines. Managers appreciate and value employees who help out. It’s important to remember there is work to get done right now. Buckle down, accept instruction, ask for help and have faith the cream rises to the top eventually.

2. Hard Work: Early career is less about advancement than it is about building a knowledge base and good connections. A job may not be challenging, but don’t be discouraged. Throw yourself into a job and work hard; show up on time, minimize distractions and learn. Make a decision to dedicate time away from work to study. Take the initiative to study job responsibilities and advance along the path to mastery. That is the way to earn a reputation as a fair, reliable, and knowledgeable team player who cares about getting ahead. Strive to master important skills, listen, and most importantly, watch successful people and model their good example. People who remain humble, work hard and put their own effort into learning will get noticed. Why? Most people don’t.

3. Honesty: Honesty is not telling peers or your boss all the faults you see at work, or sharing your deepest personal secrets. That kind of honesty is bad judgment. The honesty expected from employers is much simpler. They want to get a job done. If you need help, they want to know. Employees don’t get in trouble for asking questions and finding solutions; they get in trouble by making mistakes and delivering sloppy work. Many mistakes are made because young professionals are afraid to admit they need help. Many people are embarrassed to say, “I need some help”; instead, they trudge forward and hope for the best. Hoping for the best is a bad plan. All new professionals need help, so be honest and ask for it. Ask good questions, and the support that comes back can equal another college degree. Best of all, foster relationships that can turn into life- long friends, career advisors, and mentors.

The early stages of a career can set the tone for the trajectory of a rewarding career -- or not. Find opportunity in every situation to demonstrate humility, hard work, and honesty. These qualities set the foundation for success in life well beyond the career.