For many of us, the beginning of our professional development is filled with lessons that have stuck with us forever. So many stories to tell, days of endless work, asking for chances, proving ourselves, saying yes when others say no. Your beginning can start today. Here is how everything started for me.
For years, before starting my own business (Break2be), my sister and I would often engage in conversations (coaching style) regarding her job and career path. Every time, towards the end, she would say to me: “You should help others with their professional development!” Not to discredit that, this is the same sister that would tell me to open my own bakery every time I baked cookies or a cake for her.
A few people have asked me about the story of my professional path and even though it might take more than a blog post, I’m going to share here how it started.
You probably remember a day that changed your life. A moment that transformed you to a new version of yourself and ignited a fire to move forward, to make a change, to drive improvement.
For me, I remember that day as the moment I became an adult.
When we moved to the United States, my parents invested all their savings into a business. They were poorly guided and taken advantage of. I saw them doing their very best, but in a country new to them it was a battle that they ended up losing.
I entered the store one night and saw my mom in the back office with both her hands covering her face. She was crying. Mom didn’t cry. This was a new thing for me. I asked: “Mom, what’s going on?” She told me how she didn’t know what to do now, how we had lost it all and that there wasn’t a business anymore.
Can’t explain why, can’t even explain how I was going to do it, but I just said: “Don’t worry Mom, I will take care of everything!”
The next morning, I drove to a coffee shop near our home. I had seen a sign that said: “Help wanted”. I entered the place, asked to speak to the manager. The owner greeted me and I remember telling her all the reasons why I wanted the job “I love people”, “I learn fast”, “I can cook and make coffee”, “I’m very responsible”. Can’t remember every detail of what she said, but I got the job.
Every step has a purpose.
That job consisted in making sandwiches, lots of coffee, slicing ham, cleaning a lot, and serving the customers through the counter. Many people would question whether a job like that is valuable to anyone’s career. Personally, I appreciated every minute of it. I was very thankful to have a job, to be able to contribute to my family and release some of the financial tension we were living.
Something I can tell you is that I had no idea where that job was going to take me. I thought about it every now and then, but all I focused on was doing the best I could every day and it paid off.
One day, a recurrent customer, very discreetly gave me his card and said he was looking for a new assistant for his office. To call him if I was interested. I was! A few days later I went to his office and interviewed for the job. He needed an assistant for his assistant and I became that person.
Remember the Friends episode when Rachel gets a job at Bloomindale’s and she celebrates that she will never have to make coffee again? Kind of what happened to me. At the new job, I had to make a lot of coffee, organize paperwork, answer the phone and file folders for hours. Did I like the work I had to do? Honestly, the part of making the coffee was my favorite one. I also really liked the people that worked there. I learned so much!
I learned what was expected in an office environment, I learned ethics, commitment and responsibility. I also experienced what it felt to have someone see the potential in me and wanting to teach me, to help me grow. I learned lessons that I still apply when leading teams and teaching others.
That was the beginning. A period filled with a lot of questions and a bit of anxiety, but with a rocket power drive to take full advantage of the opportunities and a heart filled with pure appreciation.
What I can teach you from my beginning.
Every step has a meaning in your life and career. Don’t miss the opportunity that it’s giving you.
Don’t try to figure out what is the opportunity. You will benefit from it by just focusing on doing your best, as often as possible.
Every story has a beginning. Every day is the beginning of a new story. You get to choose what type of character you’ll be playing.
There are so many good people out there, wanting to help others, happy to extend an arm to a deserving individual. Be the clear choice for someone, not through your words, but through your actions.
Be thankful, for what you have and don’t have. For what you love and what you don’t. Every lesson will make you wiser, stronger, better.
The beginning of my “adulthood” started after what many would consider a “family tragedy”. We lost it all. We went from living financially comfortable to being completely broke, but we made it. We are all still here and we are better today than we were before.
I learned something that has stuck with me from those times: You can always start again.
Mariana Jaeger is a Leadership Development and Performance Success expert and has successfully trained, mentored and coached hundreds of people in her career. To learn more about Mariana, click here