I noticed this week that I walk into a workshop and feel comfortable, even if it’s one I’ve never been in before. I’m happily able to hold conversations with the people, be aware of my surroundings, and occasionally say something mildly intelligent about the work going on.
I observed this week that one of the other people in the business who started around the same time as me does not feel this way at all. He retreats into himself, lets his manager hold every conversation, and acts or engages only when directed.
Previously I’d thought nothing of it. However, having him in the workplace this week made the contrast notable.
It’s got me thinking. Reflecting.
When I left my first job as a fully fledged engineer in a big mining company, people questioned what I was doing. I was going to work for a contractor. “It’s a different world” they warned.
I’m always up for a challenge, and the new role and new company had a lot of benefits in my book. At the time, I saw one of these benefits as ‘when I get sick of a site (aka, bored or dissatisfied), I can move to another without changing job’, and ‘I can see lots of different ways of doing things, operating and managing.’
While this was entirely true, a hidden bonus was that I learnt to be less uncomfortable being ‘the new kid’.
As a contractor with experience elsewhere, I was able to walk in knowing I could show people a different way of doing things. Whether better or worse in peoples eyes, something different to get the cogs going.
Along with this, of course, I also made my share of mistakes as the new kid.
I tried the softly softly and saw I was walked all over and ignored.
I tried the too much too soon, and had to spend months getting people back on side.
I also had managers tell me, after months of being absent, that I wasn’t doing enough, so I learnt that it’s important to capture the wins.
I guess I learnt that everyone has something to contribute when they enter a new workplace. And that capturing and reflecting on each experience is important.
My realisation this week was I also gained comfort with discomfort. People are people, everywhere you go. The more experiences you have, the more you can relate to them.
So my key advice here is, in case that wasn’t obvious, go out. Adventure. Explore. Embrace new situations and learn new things. Find comfort in new situations and realise for yourself that you can bring value everywhere you go.