I began my career working at a public accounting firm as a CPA. My fiancé (now my husband of 15 years) accepted a job in the Philadelphia area. So, I moved from Puerto Rico, even though I did not want to. Like all women in my family, I had planned to be a stay-at-home mom.
So much for the original plan! I love the stimulation I get from work. I have the good fortune of working for a company that provides me with great opportunities, support, and recognition. Throughout my career, I’ve learned five key lessons:
Embrace opportunity. As a self-described worry-wart, I had to learn to deal with risks. People at work and at home pushed me to take those risks, and for that, I am grateful. The risk/reward formula has resulted in big gains for me.
Be self-aware. It’s important to learn from our mistakes, but harmful to dwell on what we’ve done wrong. At some point, we need to accept who we are. Take advantage of tools that are available for feedback. Listen with an open mind, and learn about how you are perceived. Know and use your strengths to help others and add value.
Find your own balance. Early in my career, I defined balance as spending equal amounts of time between work and personal activities. That’s an impossible goal for most professionals. I’ve realized that the key wasn’t achieving equality, but figuring out what I can and can’t afford to miss. I may miss a field trip, or a soccer game, but I won’t miss a birthday, an awards ceremony, or a holiday show. Balance is not about time; I must simply love my family every day.
Cherish friends and mentors. Early on, I tried to be friends with everyone and liked by everyone. That’s also impossible. Pick your mentors and friends carefully—they should be those that are thrilled when they see you succeed, and hold your hand when you fail.
Treat people fairly. When I started my first job, some leaders threw phones at people. It was a good lesson in what not to do as a leader. Being logical, patient and understanding is more helpful and effective than being harsh and intimidating.