Changing a flat tire.

Chopping firewood.

Tying a tie.

Shaving.

How to ask a girl out on a date.

Writing a resume.

Life is full of lessons. Some we want, we need and others we wish we never learned. Just like you, I have learned many lesson in life. Most of them the hard way. As I reflect on those lessons, I am trying to teach my boys at least three I learned the hard way I hope they don’t have to.

  1. Good, solid work experience – When it comes to getting a job, nothing beats good experience and knowing how to do stuff. If you are like me, you are able to BS your way through a lot of experiences, but it’s not possible to BS your way through when you have no effing clue how to do it forever. Take the tasks no one wants. Volunteer for everything. Make the most of your internships. Read and learn what you are doing. Ask questions if you don’t know something. Become knowledgeable and skilled in the field you are working in. Get good experiences, find them, make them for yourself.
  2. Good work and school references in addition to personal ones – There is not much more demoralizing than filling out applications and getting to the reference section and realizing you have burned every bridge you have ever been on and there is no one from your past who has anything good to say about you. Building relationships and make connections. Network with other professionals inside and outside of your field. Have a quiver full of people who can and will say good things about you for you rely on in the future.
  3. Play the game – I hate politicians. They say one thing and then do another. However, there are times in life when you have to play the game. You have to cater to what others want. You have to do the work the way your boss wants. You have to take the tough assignments with a grin to get the good ones. You have to make friends and play nice with people you can’t stand to be around. Welcome to being an adult. We aren’t always able to throw sand in someone’s face. Play the game, get along with others and be the strongest member of the team. There’s a place for the lone wolf, but sometimes the lone wolf needs to be a part of the pack.

We will learn many lessons in life. Fun ones, easy ones, good ones, hard ones and ones we wouldn’t wish on our enemies. But these lessons aren’t hard to learn, they are in my mind critical to being making far in our work lives. Learn them now when you are young.

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