“The reward of our work is not what we get, but what we become.”
― Paulo Coelho, Manuscript Found in Accra
For two weeks I have been reading slowly and carefully “The Manuscript Found in Accra” by Paulo Coelho. This book is full of mystery, mastery, wisdom and history. From this book, you can get various lessons on life, career, love and many other aspects of one’s life. In reading books and articles, I usually advice my friends and any young professional that, we should do our best to extract lessons which also help us build careers and finally attain our own professional goals.
Even though Paulo has discussed many things, in this article I shall discuss various lessons on the never ending topic of career development from the standpoint of a Young Professional.
1. KNOW WHO YOU ARE
“If you are never alone, you cannot know yourself.”
Many H.R professionals and recruitment specialists advise people focusing on who they are as far as career development is concerned. As a young professional, you must know who you are. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What job do you love? What is your passion? How is your work attitude? Answering these questions will help you understand where to strengthen yourself and where to develop yourself in order to align yourself with your career.
Knowing yourself also means knowing your short and long term goals. This will generally help you make better decisions, correct mistakes caused by habits and previous experiences and also develop the best behaviors to help you function better.
2. RESPECT STARTS WITH SELF
“You will be loved and respected only if you love and respect yourself.”
Many people in organizations crave the respect from their peers, bosses, workmates, seniors and juniors. Some people go overboard and demand the respect because of the titles they hold, the lifestyle they try to portray or the role they have in the organization. Others go beyond by inflicting fear to their co-workers just only to gain respect.
Paulo Coelho says respect begins with yourself. Only when you love yourself is when others can sense that self-love and love you back. Only when you respect yourself is when others can sense that self-respect and respect you in return. Focus on what you think about yourself, what you say about yourself, the value you give yourself, the way you carry yourself during your work and people will respect you to the level of your self-respect and even more.
“The greatest gift God gave us is the power to make decisions.”
“Difficulty is the name of an ancient tool that was created purely to help us define who we are.”
The best way to live is knowing that you have the power to make your own decisions and that the decisions you make will affect you either positively or negatively. That’s generally the highest difference between a human being and an animal. The power to make decisions. With this, it does not matter how small or how big the decision is, it has its effect. Paulo Coelho explains in the book that we should not let others tell us that what we dream is impossible, or that road A is better than road B. we should make decisions.
I should not be misunderstood, we all need advice from people on various issues of life. But the ultimate decisions should rest on ourselves. It is up to you whether or not you will start reading more books to be more informed. It is up to you whether you will dress well for your job. It is up to you whether you will work harder than you did the past 90 days. The ultimate decision is entirely up to you. But since we all need advice, I advise you to choose working harder for your goals, pay attention on what you want and achieve it. But again, the decision to follow this advice is up to you.
4. DEALING WITH YOUR PAST
“No one can go back, but everyone can go forward. And tomorrow, when the sun rises, all you have to say to yourself is: I am going to think this day as the first day of my life.”
“Scars are medals branded on the flesh, and your enemies will be frightened by them because they are proof of your long experience of battle.”
In our way towards achieving career fulfilment we do go through rough patches. No one said it was to be easy in the first place so it’s okay. The problem comes when you have to deal with your past. We have all heard that our past is our past, we should only look at the future. This is easier said than done. We, young professionals live in the world where even though technology makes life easier, we still have limited access to mentorship, from people who have more experience than us. We struggle in careers not because we luck intelligence and willingness but because the world has painted an image that millenials are good for nothing people who cannot deliver. But this is not true.
In dealing with the past we should accept all the mistakes we have made knowing that nothing can change the past. We should use that experience to challenge ourselves in becoming better workers and better people. We should not be afraid of our scars, we should not hide them. Instead, we should show the world that we are not the product of our mistakes. We still can be the best generation there ever was. All we need to do is to get that courage to keep on moving.
5. WORK FULFILMENT
“Success doesn’t not come from having one’s work recognized by others. It is the fruit of a seed that you lovingly planted.”
Why do you work? Is it merely to earn a living? If that is yes, you are not wrong as long as that is what your heart wants. Work fulfilment is to pour happiness and joy into what you do. Paulo Coelho says there are two types of work. The first is the work we do because we have to and in order to earn our bread. In this, we only sell time that can never be bought back. The second type of work is that which we do also in order to earn our bread but which we try and fill each minute with dedication and love. He equates the second type of work with a seed which is planted, to bear fruits in its season.
A good question to ask ourselves is what type of work are we doing? Do we find meaning? Are we planting a seed or are we merely selling our time?
6. FOCUS ON THE MOMENT
“Wait patiently for the right moment to Act”
“Do not let the next opportunity slip.”
“The tragedy opened up an opportunity for me and I will try to make the most of it. I will discover works of art I never knew existed.”
We live in the world where technology has made our lives much easier. We have access to the best education, tutorials and information. We should also know that we live in the age of distraction. With too much information it becomes hard to know which one is best for your mind. One of life’s sharpest paradoxes is that your brightest future hinges on your ability to pay attention to the present.
Focus on the present. Focus on the moment. Take it as a seed you plan for the future. Focus on who you are and not what image people have given you. As Paulo Coelho says;
“Don’t try to be useful. Try to be yourself; that is enough, and that makes all the difference.”