I’m currently participating in a six week series on Metta, or loving-kindness meditation. Lately we’ve been focusing on self-love and last week we reviewed the very important concept of forgiving yourself.
This is such an important thing to remember in the workplace too. As Millennials in the nonprofit sector, we have a trend to be too hard on ourselves. We know the good we want to do in the world and the potential our energy, skills, and insight brings to the table. We want to change the world and we know we can.
So when we slip up, we get very frustrated and mad at ourselves. We worry about how it looks to our colleagues – looking like we don’t know what we’re doing might be the worst thing we can imagine. Our professional reputation is extremely important to us. We feel it dictates our entire future. It defines us.
The truth is, everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes are what make us human and teach us how to deal with issues as they come up. Getting through a slip up can cause you to learn so much and be a better person. It can teach you resilience and professionalism. It can teach you how to be a better employee and a better manager.
So, this is a call that we must forgive ourselves. Forgive ourselves for any mistakes we have made at work. Ten years from now, none of this will matter. Will it matter ten months from now? Ten days from now? Likely not. Forgive yourself and let go of the past. It will liberate you to move forward with your work in a brand new way. Don’t worry: you’re still changing the world.
I’m excited to share that I was asked by Nancy Schwartz of Getting Attention!: Helping Nonprofits Succeed Through Successful Marketing to write a guest post for her blog. The post went up on Friday and you can read it here. Since she’s asked me to do a series of posts from the Millennial perspective, I wanted to set the stage that the Millennial generation cannot and should not be generalized. In the post, I list some of the reasons this is the case, and what to do about it.
Readers, I want to share with you that the only reason this happened is because Nancy, who is a well known and respected nonprofit marketing expert, came across my blog and enjoyed my voice. I am thrilled to be entering this partnership, as I know it will be phenomenal for my name recognition and my professional development. I again want to stress the organic nature of this arrangement and the fact that you can easily get there too – simply by starting a blog! I write about whatever I want, whenever I want, in my voice… and it’s been recognized! Very validating!
I recently came across this article about a stress study done recently that produced an interesting finding: higher level employees are less stressed than lower level employees. This finding jives with what I found when I did a study on the role of stress in the lives of nonprofit employees. My data was self reported, unlike the article’s data which measured biological symptoms of stress, but nevertheless, the outcomes were similar – entry level employees were some of the most stressed out ones.
This sounds counter-intuitive at first. One might assume that with more responsibility comes more expectation, more to do and more stress. The study actually came to the conclusion that with a higher amount of control – something that higher level employees enjoy – the level of stress decreases. This is a great argument for the power of empowering lower level employees and instilling in others a sense of responsibility and ownership in their projects.
I have another idea. I’m not saying I’ve proven this in any sort of research project, but it’s just my postulation. We know that stress is most often self-imposed. I’d like to argue that higher level employees have more life experience and more awareness about how to manage stress. They have tools in their toolbelt and can identify when things are getting sticky.
Not to mention the concept that Millennials – the group that is entering the workforce right now at entry level positions – is made up of overachievers, perfectionists, and ambitious workers. We put very high expectations on ourselves, and that is manifesting in stress. And that needs to stop now!
I encourage you to be proactive about managing your stress, no matter where you fall on the food chain. I thought this article was interesting because it’s causing us all to think differently about what stress is and the role it has in the workforce and in our lives. It’s turned our traditional definition of stress on its head. And since stress is such an abstract thing that should really be paid attention to and analyzed, that’s just where it should be.
USA Today did a great piece on the types of people skills leaders need in order to be successful (read the piece here). The article has some good, easy to implement tips on some small improvements to make on your people skills. The tips include making the employee feel more at ease, devoting all attention to them, and being empathetic. Yes, yes, and yes – couldn’t agree more.
All the tips listed are things that should be done with millennials. But the difference is that there is an additional goal. Millennials need to feel empowered to take what you’re teaching them and run. They need to feel like their voice is heard and you respect their perspective. Once you’ve demonstrated this, you’re golden, and a millennial will follow you anywhere you want to go.
Of all the tips, be fully present was probably my personal favorite. When I’m having a conversation with someone, I turn to them, look them in the eye, and show through my body language that I’m paying attention. I don’t understand people who can have conversations through cubicles without looking at each other! Even if I’m right next to someone, I always need eye contact.
The article specifically calls out young people as being underdeveloped in their face-to-face communications. Unfortunately, with the prevalence of texting and online communication, we’re pushing ourselves to always be multi-tasking. I think our generation needs a hybrid approach to communications, but one that is founded on eye contact. That’s the best way to instill confidence and demonstrate respect, and that’s the way we’ll really take direction and run.