Sometimes you realize that times flies, and all of a sudden, it will be today. This is why I don’t quite remember what year this was, but the year is also unimportant. It was around the middle of the first decade of this millennium. Anyway I was working at a major telecom company as a call center representative. I remembered the first time I was pitched this job by the job office, as I was currently unemployed. I thought to myself, a call center job? Never… with such a low pay? No, never ever. I still went to the interview obviously over dressed in a suit – I have not in my career seen anyone overdress so bad for a job interview as I did back then. Who knew that I was just about to land my spaceship on my home planet?
I felt I had greater ambitions for my life. I did however have low self-esteem after a few bad career choices and some more lack of success. I did get this job, and I loved it from day one. I had a blast with my co-workers, I had fun at work, and I was good at what I did. I was not among the best achievers; I even struggled to make it to top ten. My results were average, but my quality was great.
It did not take a long time before I realized that a promotion was possible. People changed jobs fast, the turnaround on staff was high and people quit and left a trail of possibilities. I did get more responsibilities within six months. I have a hard time remembering the order of everything because things happened so fast, and I had not yet learned to stop and breathe.
I was team leader at this time – I had a great department leader and I think I was working among some of the best people I have known in my life. We rocked! I was really starting to love customer service as a subject and call center management in particular. I had a few inspiring books about the subjects, and I was starting to become a good Amazon customer.
As part of some training I was suddenly summoned to have an external coach. I was unprepared as I had never met a real coach before. I had started to read about leadership and coaching, but I had not become a total knowledge freak just yet.
I sat down with this coach, I was skeptical, and I was not sure where this was heading. But I decided very fast to have an open mind. We talked about the future and we talked about goals and ambitions. I remember I said that I wanted to become “the next department leader” I knew I could get that job if I worked hard. “Then what?” he said. Well then I would be happy and filled with all kinds of fluffy good feelings? I don’t know.. I don’t remember what I said either. But I remember we talked about goals – open and closed goals. I had a narrow goal with an end to it. “Become department leader” – when I think of it, it might have been the least sexy ambition I have ever had – in retrospect of course.
After a few sessions I was a changed man, I have had an epiphany and I could see clearly where my life was heading. My goal changed to: “become the best leader possible”
This resulted in two things. 1) Knowledge and wisdom got extremely important in my life. 2) The amount of books I have read since then makes me dread moving.
“Acquire knowledge before you need it” – this is something I learned during these settings. I remember I had a book about what to do the first 90 days after you get a job. Read it before you get the job. If you want a promotion – get the training and knowledge first. Nobody goes to the moon and then start to figure out how to be an astronaut?
“Keep learning and expanding even if you don’t need the knowledge today” I have a great job today. When I write this, it is the last day of my summer vacation and I am looking forward for tomorrow going back to work. I know what I need to know to do an ok job. Still I have spent the summer holiday reading about organizational development and workplace psychology. But who knows what the future holds? If I keep learning, it might become useful when I one day need it the most.
It was a life changing moment, but it took time to realize it, as I had to work with my new found ways for a while. But humans are designed to learn, I actually think that knowledge and learning is a key element to achieving happiness. It does not matter what you learn, but teach yourself something. Or even better, teach something to someone else, it might help them to open their minds. I think me and the coach had about 4-5 sessions, but they changed me totally. And these sessions keep changing me as one of the main results is my hunger for knowledge. I read books, and I read a lot of them. I have even written one. And this blog would never happen without it. I feel that I have acquired enough experience to share it, and still I know that I will continue to grow as a human and as an employee. Education is reading books put into a system, you do not need to go to class to read a book, and you do not need a diploma after you read the books. The important part of reading is refueling your knowledge. Education however is important and that is why I am going back to school this fall to learn about organizations and leadership for the next two years, the first step on fulfilling a dream.