Treat it like it's your job
I'm an outlier. The average age of the 2012-13 class of SMF students is around 23 years; I'm 33. The average work experience of the group is about 1.5 years; I've been out in "the real world" for 10 years. So maybe it's just that I don't know any other way to approach this SMF thing than this: I plan to treat it like it's my job.
Some of you reading this post may not have ever had a real job before (you know, the kind that pays you well enough to support yourself, independent of your parents, and, in exchange, requires you to dedicate a significant portion of your time, brain power and effort). Here are just a few tips for treating something like it's your job...
Be on time. By this I mean to include both showing up on time and completing your work on time (sounds simple, but most people have a hard time dealing with the planning fallacy)
Check email regularly. So much information gets shared through email. If you're not checking yours regularly, what are you missing?
Calendar everything. When I was 23, I truly believed I could remember every appointment I had just because I was so darn smart. Ten years later I've learned that relying on your ability to remember everything isn't so smart the first time you miss a meeting with someone you might have wanted to impress (client, boss, love interest). Forget gold; time is the most precious commodity on earth. For that reason, time management is really, really important. Check out this book if you want some guidance on the topic. (Side note: I got a new boss in March 2010. About a month later, I approached him to ask about his early thoughts on how I could improve my performance at work. All he said back was, "I don't know how you organize your time." Then he handed me a copy of Getting Things Done, the book I link to above.)
Dress for work. Sad but true: people will judge you based on how you look. Personally, I'd rather be pre-judged as competent and well-groomed than have to exert extra effort trying to change people's first impressions to the contrary. Wear shorts and flip flops if you want... just don't be surprised when people treat you like a person who wears shorts and flip flops.
Step up and lead. There are opportunities to lead all around us. And the beautiful thing is that we each get to choose our own level of involvement. So the next time a leadership opportunity presents itself, why not take it? Afraid of failure? Guess what, so is everyone else. To quote Mark Twain: "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear."
To wrap my very first blog post up, and to show you, kind reader, that I am not just the miserly old man in the classroom, I will share with you a picture of something I love...