What Experience Is Shaping You?

03potterswheel400x282I started teaching a new coaching class recently, geared toward coaches in university/B-school settings. Co-facilitating with Ellen Bartkowiak, we did a fun icebreaker, asking this question:

What was your first job (beyond perhaps babysitting) and how did it shape you?

Everyone had fascinating answers, and I’ll share mine here.

I was 16, between my junior and senior year of high school, doing admin office work in a cantaloupe-packing shed. A few nights before the harvest season began, the shed mysteriously burned down (perhaps related to the fact that the company and the union were at loggerheads?!). The company was able to find a backup facility 10 miles away, but it was woefully antiquated, which meant working long, long hours, seven days a week. Some nights we didn’t finish until 9 or even 10pm, and then you were expected to be back the next morning around 7. The overtime pay was great, but it was exhausting.

My takeaway: I learned an agrarian work ethic that taught me about grit and served me well all these years as an entrepreneur. Sometimes too well. There have been days when I didn’t know when to quit. Thankfully, I have started to learn that pushing-pushing-pushing isn’t always the right answer.

We all have circumstances that shape us. Let each one shape you gently, so that it serves you, rather than you serving it.

What about you? What was your first job and how did it shape you? Tell us in the comments!

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