8 lessons schoolchildren can teach you about your career

September: time for children and teenagers to head back to school. Hopefully, after two months of rest, they are ready to tighten the bonds of friendship, further extend their knowledge, and learn new life lessons.  

The parents among us are likely sending their offspring to the school gates with a bit of good advice or motivational words. What if we were to tell you that you could help your career by taking the school-going youth as an example? Yes, you read that right: these young people can teach you a thing or two as well. Whether in your existing career, or because you just accepted a new challenge.

1. Tighten the bonds of friendship

For the youth, the first day of school means seeing friends they may not have seen over the summer. The best way to tighten those bonds again is not to begin telling their summer stories all at the same time. The same goes for your network. Find out who you lost contact with and change that fact. Ask how they are doing and what keeps them busy nowadays. That way you can see if there is anything you can help them with. But watch out: if you contact someone again after some time, do not ask for a favour or make yourself the centre of attention. That could give the wrong impression.

2. Acquire good habits

A new school year means a clean slate: once again laying down the foundation for a good report card and learning from the mistakes of the previous year. This is important in your career as well, because fatigue, procrastination and bad organisation can be disastrous for your work. Consider your next work day or your new job like the 1st of September and try being more productive again, by working differently.

3. Take that next step

Moving on to the next grade means building on the knowledge of the previous year. For example, year 5 mathematics form the basis for the more complicated functions in year 6. Look back at your career: what did you learn recently that could serve as a stepping stone for something else or something new? Or: what went wrong in your previous job that you should definitely not repeat? Think of this year as ‘the next grade’ and place the bar a little higher for yourself.

4. Focus on growth

Do you remember your 1 September? Classmates who were suddenly a head taller or dressed differently? These are things you would have never noticed if you would have seen them every day during the summer. Now that you work, you obviously cannot just leave work for two months; but try looking at the people and things around you from a different perspective. If you see someone doing a good job, make sure to encourage them.

5. Avoid routine

The first day of school after the holidays was exciting, because everything was new again, and you had to leave your summer habits behind you. The fact that you have a job now does not mean that you should not still avoid routine. This could mean moving a regular meeting to a different day, rearranging the office, or taking a different route to work. Or... that you go and look for a new job.

6. You are not alone

Children who have trouble finding their way at school can count on classmates or teachers to help them. But you are not alone either. One of the most important assertions in a career is: “I don't know.” By that, we do not mean that you should give up if something is too difficult - on the contrary. Admitting that you do not know something, is the first step to finding a solution. As soon as you admit it to yourself, you can consult a colleague or your manager. Likewise, if you no longer feel happy in your current job, you can get some advice from someone you trust.

7. Maintain structure

The school diary: every free day and holiday was neatly written down. This gives children the time and the chance to do their school work, as well as to have regular free time. Plan as many of your free moments in advance as possible. Make sure you know when you have free time or when you take days off to educate yourself.

8. Know what is important

When you were in school, you did not only know when you had your holidays, but also which classes would be important in the coming school year. You got your priorities from the teachers, who in turn got theirs from the learning plan. Let yourself be inspired by that, now that the summer holidays are over, or when starting a new job. Think about what your priorities will be this year - professionally and privately - and put it in a plan. You can keep that for your eyes only, but look at it regularly to see if you are on schedule, and so you can cross everything off the list when the year is over.

Thank you for reading. For more hint, tips and insights about the world of work, visit our dedicated blog page here or click on one of the links below.