The Countdown To My 29th Year

Music playing: Greenback Boogie by Ima Robot

In a few days (4 starting tomorrow to be exact), I will be celebrating my 29th birthday. To a lot of people, that would be horrific but to me, I think it’s a milestone – definitely a good picture of God’s grace and love.

I feel especially blessed this past year of my life, being abundant with adventures and overflowing with blessings.

I guess to sort of countdown to my birthday, I want to share some things I learned / re-learned / was reassured of during the past year. I definitely learned a lot of things but I think these ones really stood out.

1. Good people to work with are treasures

I used to have this belief that if someone is intelligent enough, and applied for the kind of job they studied in school, then that person would do well in the workplace. I was dead wrong :)

I have been officially a part of the workforce for 5 years now. And before that, I would do projects on the side while studying. In all those years, I was blessed with opportunities to work with different kinds of people. One thing I learned is that the university, the degree and even the IQ of a person did not guarantee the kind of colleague they would be at work. In fact, some of the best people I’ve worked with hold no fancy degrees and to this day, I feel privileged that I got the chance to work with them.

This past year, those work opportunities with people heightened. I was thrown in various directions in terms of my career. I got to work with people from all walks of life, with all sorts of expertise from a wide range of  industries. From all those projects I did, I can honestly say that finding good people to work with did not come easy. When I look back over those 5 years, only several stood out. But those several people are people that come to mind first when projects come along, and those people have become some of my dearest friends.

In my experience, what really makes someone a great colleague is for one, they can wing it. That means when the going gets tough, when the unpredictable happens, they don’t end up whining or looking to you for solutions. They think of solutions first, pass it by the proper authorities and get on with it. If there is no time, that person just makes a decision based on the resources he or she has — and has the bravery to own up to those decisions. I was surprised to find that not a lot of people have this in them. At the first sign of uncertainty, they panic and bail. Or worse, they put all the pressure on you.

A good colleague slash employee is also not afraid to ask questions. I admit that on my first months as an employee, I had what most fresh grads had – this misguided confidence that I know a lot more, and therefore, should never have to ask questions. That, and it feels embarrassing to not know what to do. Later on I discovered that bosses / senior staff loves someone who is willing to learn. It is a sign of respect, and shows that the person has room for growth. Along with that discovery, I found that questions did not mean you were in any way inferior, incapable, or unworthy. It just means that you don’t know everything — which is actually good. Being in a job is a two-way relationship. You can’t just be the one contributing to the other person, you need to allow the other side to give to you as well. This past year, I found people who did not know how or refused to ask questions a liability, more than an asset. It hindered projects from progressing on the ideal timeline because one item could not be accomplished properly because one was trying too hard to do it without enough knowledge. Too much attitude, too much ego, too much room to makes mistakes.

Lastly, and most importantly, a good co-worker slash employee is okay to play with a team. By nature, I am not really a group person. I mean, I find that I work best when I work alone. However, one of life’s most beautiful lessons for me is the reaffirmation that indeed, no man is an island. What good thing you can build alone becomes a great, beautiful thing when built with others. It just adds more meaning and purpose. Having said that, I know working with other people is not a walk in the park. But I know that it’s always been worth it – if not for the strong friendships that it creates in the process, but also the stretching of the character that happens. Real team players are willing to take one for the team. When a project falls apart, a team holds hands through it and accepts the consequences. They rebuild what was lost. When I know I’m with a team player, I feel more secured when I work knowing that whatever happens, someone has my back. A person who does not know how to work with a team misses out and when the ship is sinking, there is no one to hold him or her up; no rescue available. Working in a team brings out the worst in people during the stressful periods but it also brings out the best and those best sides are what composes the most successful projects. I can honestly say that working with all the people I’ve worked with – team players and not – have greatly contributed to the kind of person I am today.

So there. That’s one of the most precious lessons this past year has given me. I know there are other things that make a good coworker but I think most of them fall under one of these traits or if not, these are the ones I find that are most important and transcendent of occupations.

And on that note, I just want to give a shot out to the best people I’ve worked with — I hope you know who you are. God has given me you guys to serve as my inspiration in putting my best foot forward in whatever I do.


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