“You can never regret anything you do in life. You kind of have to learn the lesson from whatever the experience is and take it with you on your journey forward.” – Aubrey O’Day
This month marks my 25 years in association management. I’ve been thinking about it the past few months – how the time has flown and moved slowly at the same time. Moments of success and failure that have culminated into a career that I am proud of. And I haven’t thrown in the towel yet – I’ve got some good years in me still.
Today one of our new interns interviewed me on my career for her class project. Her questions made me hone in and reflect on lessons learned. She asked for advice that I would give to someone starting out in their career.
So here goes, the lessons I’ve learned, relearned and keep learning even after 25 years:
Stay positive and never let negative people make you stray off course. It’s only noise to distract, tune it out. Be patient and let time do its job. Work hard and be focused. Play hard so you can keep working hard. When you are at work, be at work. When you are at home, be at home. Laugh early and often, especially at yourself. Intensity is good at times, but not all of the time. Lighten up.
Trust yourself. Listen. Don’t let others criticism or praise define who you are – you only need to account for what you’ve contributed to this world while you are here so keep your eyes on your own paper. Take ownership for your professional and personal development. There will never be “free time” that suddenly opens up for learning. You need carve it out of your schedule each day and make it a priority. Be curious and ask questions. Always do your best – it develops character, strength and results.
Make time for art, music and literature to spark a continual flow of creativity which every profession can benefit from. True leadership is a quiet endeavor that always shines a light outward, not to self. Help others grow and you will grow yourself in the process. Enjoy the journey, it goes fast. Create, foster and build relationships – those are what will be remembered long after we pass by and through.
As in all lessons, I wish I would have learned them quicker than I did. The good news is that I am still a willing student ready to learn even more as the journey continues.