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What I Wish I Would Have Known Earlier in My Career

Learnings to share and pass on to the next generation of leaders

There are many things I know today that I wish I knew earlier in my career. I’m sure many of you are the same. I thought I would share those here in hope they inspire our young leaders, potentially create some thought around these topics and promote more awareness to valuable insights.


LESSON 1

No matter how eager we are to learn or how much we desire to grow, it is impossible to capture it all. It is important to give these gifts to young leaders:


1) Resource Them

2) Value Them

3) Believe In Them

4) Mentor Them


LESSON 2 Learn the value of questions. Questions you can continually come back to and address with people in your care.

  • Wisdom—What is the greatest lesson you have learned?

  • Passion—What are you learning now?

  • Attitude—How has failure shaped your life?

  • Networking—Who do you know that I should know?

  • Growth—What have you read that I should read?

  • Experience—What have you done that I should do?

  • Gratitude—How can I add value to you?

LESSON 3

Realize growth is a constant journey. It is important to grow every day. I have found the best way to express this is simply through some important truths (in no particular order):


  1. “Your level of success will rarely exceed the level of your personal development.” – Jim Rohn

  2. Change your mindset from “How long will it take?” to “How far can I go?”

  3. Everyone thinks they are teachable, but successful people move from teachable to learnable. A Learnable Person desires to learn and is intentional in learning. Every person and experience can teach you something if you look for a lesson. In addition, a learnable person applies what they are learning. Application equals transformation.

  4. There is a roadmap for learning:

  • Humility - is the spirit of learning.

  • Reality – The Foundation of Learning

  • Responsibility – The first step of learning

  • Improvement – The focus of learning

  • Hope – The motivation of learning

  • Teachability – The pathway for learning

  • Adversity – The catalyst for learning

  • Problems – The opportunities for learning

  • Bad Experience – The perspective for learning

  • Change – The price of learning

  • Maturity – The value of learning

LESSON 4

People matter.

  • Value people, believe in people, and unconditionally love them.

  • Value everyone continually, but a few strategically

  • Spend your time developing “Inner Circle Friends”

  • Inner Circle Friends Give You:

  • A Spiritual Lift – Who prays for you?

  • An Attitude Lift – Who encourages you?

  • A Mental Lift – Who teaches you?

  • A Growth Lift – Who stretches you?

  • A Success Lift – Who adds value to you?How do you know if a person adds value to you? You can’t imagine your life without them.

  • A Support Lift – Who unconditionally loves you?


LESSON 5

Many of us have been in our career for many years and others might find themselves at the end of their career thinking what to do next? I would like to encourage you to share your knowledge and experience that you have gained with those years with those that you lead. Don’t wait until the end of your career but start where you are, with what you can give to others.


My mentor always tells me to “Strive to be a river, not a reservoir.” Meaning…be a river of knowledge, being a source of nourishment for those we lead.


This can broken it down into 3 sections:

  1. Know Yourself

  2. Find Your Strength and Stay There

  3. Manage the Decisions You Make

Know Yourself

In order to know oneself it is imperative to decipher what has been important and define what has shaped you over the years. Below are questions that I feel if thoughtfully reflected on and responded to can lead to knowing oneself. The responses to these questions dictate the direction of our daily, weekly and monthly activities. What one says yes to and what one says no to.


Know Your:

Values – What are my foundational beliefs?

Purpose – Why am I put on this earth for?

Strengths – Where am I gifted?

Weaknesses – What are the things I do not do well?

Priorities – What is most important to me?

Passion – What energizes me?

Challenges – What things must I conquer?

Failures – What mistakes must I learn from?

Vision – Where Do I see myself in 3, 5, 10 years from now?

Qualities – What kind of person do I want to be?


Find Your Strength and Stay There

Too often we look at our weaknesses first and try to fix them. When at best we might get to be 20% better.


As I have grown in my career and led many teams, I have found that it is more productive to focus on my strengths and stay in those zones to have the greatest success…not only for me, but for my team too. Try asking yourself the following:


  1. What is required of me?

  2. What gives me the greatest return?

  3. What brings me the greatest return?


When you find the intersection of these three questions, you have found your strength zone.


Manage the Decisions You Make

Your decision to take action is only as good as your resolve to manage that decision. In other words, the most important decision you make is the attitude you choose.


Over the years, I have found there to be “Big 5” Attitude Attackers! These are things that can slowly break down over time and become a large obstacle. However, being aware of these hijacking pitfalls can be the first step to not allowing yourself to be taken hostage.

  1. Discouragement – This is highly contagious and can infect your team.

  2. Problems – Solving problems is the quickest way to gain leadership

  3. Change – This takes you out of your comfort zone, which is not a bad place to be for your leadership growth.

  4. Fear – If your faith is greater than fear, the stronger emotion wins.

  5. Failure – Learn from your mistakes and don’t be tempted to get down on yourself.

It is my wish to pass along these learnings to future leaders. I am rooting for you! Keep doing the right things, the right way and you'll get the right results! Learn from your mentors and glean from their experiences so you too can pass on your learnings to those in your care.

Arthur M. May AIA Assoc. President / CEO

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Harvest Business & Leadership Development at 916-878-9819