Our careers are a progression. As our careers develop, our work with all the experiences it involves as well as our colleagues and counterparts can be some of our greatest teachers. We grow through our work because it forces us to confront our fears (e.g., fear of failure or public speaking) in a way that no other activity would. There is no choice; we have to get to the other side of our fears because we might otherwise damage our careers. By letting go of our reservations, we discover new inner strengths as well as other perspectives in life. Over time, we learn and grow with our career.
Along the way, we also inevitably make mistakes. It is part of what we sometimes must experience to learn. We regret some mistakes, and often we would rather forget them because they sting, but we all make them. If you are on an upward journey and working on areas you have never worked on before, you cannot know everything there is to know about them, and you will make mistakes. They are a part of our path.
As we move through the fears, our mistakes, and the abundance of experiences that we have day in and day out, we grow. We become different people. Hopefully, we can look back and see what we would have done differently. We can only do that because we have grown. There will always be choices along the way that we wish had gone differently. That is ultimately the point in the end – to be able to deal with our experiences, both negative and positive, with as much grace as we can muster, and to learn from them so we can become better professionals and human beings.
A Path to Learning
If you frame your career as your greatest teacher, your perspective may change. Instead of avoiding a challenging assignment, you may raise your hand to lead it. The project will force you to face what you have been avoiding. Then, when you have a bad experience, you can learn from it, make amends, and get up to keep going to tackle the next challenge. That next stage will bring more experiences, and hopefully, you can learn from those as well.
As you grow from your work and those around you, you will learn more about yourself. With time, you may notice that how you handle mistakes and challenges follows a pattern, and you can learn to make the path smoother for yourself. You may also learn more about what makes you happy and where you want to spend your time. Then, you can craft your career so that it is fulfilling for you. In the end, hopefully, you can look back and be thankful for the journey, with everything it entailed — its ups, downs, and its swings. It is all part of you and the person you became, and what you have been able to do.