Professional and Personal Growth Comes from Overcoming Friction

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Opportunities to learn are all around you. You may not be super excited about something in the moment, but often what you ultimately want lies on the other side of friction.

There are a lot of opportunities to learn and grow on the job. In fact, that’s probably where we learn the most. The positions we have challenge us to learn, expand and take on new things. Sometimes those new things are scary. Sometimes we literally have no idea how to do stuff we’re being asked to do. This inevitability creates friction. 

What I’ve found over the years is that so much of your success is based on your ability to overcome challenges and stay positive. It’s no easy task. I’ve been thrown to the wolves myself. I once found myself in a “link building” position, but the job I applied for was Web Developer. I didn’t know the first thing about link building nor was I even interested. I understood though that everything you want is on the other side of what’s staring you down.

As they say, where there’s friction, there’s fire.

I shadowed my coworker for about 3 days before I started doing some things on my own. We had a whole crazy internal system built by our programmers to scrape websites, grab links, and send emails. It was quite the operation. It wasn’t the most exciting day-to-day work. Every now and then I’d get a task that said “update the content of X site to Y.” 

I would get so excited about something different that it gave me a boost of energy. After knocking out link building for about 3 months, I started doing some development for blogging sites. This meant I needed to learn WordPress.

I knew code, but I had no idea what WordPress even was…..and so, more training ensued. Again I had to shadow my colleague for a decent amount of time. They sat behind me for about 3 days and watched me work on sites and corrected me when I missed something. It worked out well. I was learning. I wasn’t exactly thrilled about WordPress at the time, but I was excited to take on the challenge and increase my skills which also meant I was increasing my value. The investment in learning was well worth it. 

Learning inside and outside of the workplace. 

When you’re passionate about a particular subject you’re more than likely spending time building up your skills outside the workplace too. And, this is important. You could be doing a range of things like:

  • Building a test website.
  • Learning Python and building small apps.
  • Playing with full app development. 
  • Trying a new writing style or learning more about UX writing.
  • Designing new things like a website or logo.
  • Building up illustration skills.
  • …and the list goes on.

And, you could be using various educational tools like: 

Many people who are applying for positions usually list a whole slew of job-related education and courses; not so much college. This has tremendous value. If I take 15 courses on illustration, there’s a good chance I might have some skills. I could be lacking a bit of talent in spots, but individuals having deep knowledge of a skill has value. 15 courses at 10+ hours each is a lot more education than someone who has taken a singular drawing course in college for example. These individuals oftentimes don’t have degrees, but they have talent, drive, and a positive attitude.

Learning is a way of life. It should be something you want to do versus something you have to do.

Sure, you’re going to have to learn some stuff you might not enjoy as much, but doing that gives you space to eventually navigate towards more of the stuff you would like to learn. That’s okay. That’s part of the process.

Having a positive attitude goes a long way in increasing your opportunities and learning new stuff creates a compound interest effect. The more you learn, the more powerful you become. I can do all kinds of stuff today that I couldn’t do three years ago. Heck, even 3 months ago I couldn’t do some of the things I can do today because I didn’t have any idea how to start.

The bottom line, spend time learning if you can. Push past friction, deploy a positive attitude, and take on the opportunities that come your way. You never know what can impact you or the clients you work with.

As always, thanks for reading and get learning!