Three lessons from the school of hard knocks. How you handle your mistakes makes all the difference. Knowing your values is what leads to your dream job. Your work friends matter.


I remember the happy day I graduated from college, being handed my all important Bachelors Degree in Human Resources Management. So much success and joy, I certainly felt like I could take on the world.

And then I realized I had a lot to learn.

When I landed my first big girl job, I quickly realized that if I recited textbook staffing theory to the Director of Human Resources, I would be taking the chance of being laughed at. I learned that being armed with knowledge was not enough. What mattered in this particular job was the ability to pay attention to detail, and have the competence to process transactions correctly and timely. Turns out, it is grit that is valued, knowledge just helps you to stand out.

So through the years, I learned many, many Turns out, it's grit that's valued, knowledge just helps you stand outlessons that I never could have learned in college. Lessons that are best learned by the way they hit your gut when they happen. The kind of thing that you stress about when trying to sleap at night, or things you find yourself asking for advice from others on. I call it the school of hard knocks.

1. How you handle it when you make a mistake is what makes the difference.
Mistakes are seriously not the end of the world. And people who make you feel that way have a lot to learn themselves (but that’s another story).

I have had bosses and co-workers that define people by their mistakes, and it is awful and unproductive. The best people I have worked with in my career have used mistakes as a chance to discuss, learn, and create opportunity. I have been a part of some really meaningful projects that were born from some mistake.

2. Knowing your values will lead you to your dream job. 
I’m talking about knowing how your job brings you meaning in your life. It’s important to point out that we’re not talking about joy. Standing at the water cooler gossiping about the Christmas party certainly brings me joy, but it’s definitely not meaningful.

When you look back at today, think about what you did that is meaningful to your work. Those moments are rooted in your values. Building a network of values can certainly take a lot of self-reflection and work, but it’s worthwhile. Susan David’s book, Emotional Agility is a great place to start if building your values.

It’s important because your personal values serve as the compass that will drive you into a career that is meaningful to you.

3. Your friends at work matter.
Just like your sorority sisters or your high school team mates, your work buds keep you going. So embrace that joy you get from gossiping at the water cooler, and participate in the office pranks! While for many of us, there is serious work to be done, finding the joy in your day through your friends will be reflected in your quality of work. This may be the most important lesson there is to learn about the workplace!


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