15 Things I learned in 2017

Wow, that was a rather quick year.

I still remember doing this end of year review last year (seems like just a few months ago though).

Anyways, it was a quick year meaning there’s so much left to do. I honestly can’t wait to start running.

But before we hit the tracks, I decided to jot down my learnings this past year.

  1. You don’t have to like people to work well with them

Throughout my relatively short career, I’ve worked with truly amazing people who remain friends till this day. This year, I started out on a fresh adventure when I switched jobs. For the first time, I’m working with people… let’s just say I’m not so fond of. There’s just something about their personality that rubs me wrong.

I always assumed this would be a problem for me but the reverse has been the case. It became an opportunity to slow down and practice tolerance, as well as keeping an eye on the bigger picture which is the task at hand.

So, while working with colleagues who are like friends and family will make your work experience infinitely enjoyable, working with “colleagues” has no negative effect on the final output. At the end of the day, you’re at work not to make friends but to work.

  1. Liking your colleagues however, makes work feel amazing

On the other hand, this year I blessed with another amazing boss (warning, gushing sentences ahead). My boss is like a coach, a cheerleader and Albert Einstein rolled up in one. She’s so brilliant, industrious, always bursting with ideas and versatile. I see her tackle new subjects with a mental agility people only dream about.

But intelligence does not a decent human being make. Luckily for me, my boss is fiercely supportive. She’s like a mom and a favorite aunt rolled up into one. We joke, we laugh, we fight and we kick ass together.

  1. When managing conflict, it’s okay NOT to be cynical

Have you ever been in those situations where you get into a not-so-friendly exchange with someone from which you eventually walk away? Then after several hours you come up with the perfect comeback, but the opportunity is gone. Painful, right?

In the bid not to be outdone, we now have the clapback culture – people sit behind the safety of their keyboard screens, and tear down other human beings.

It’s ugly.

We tend to celebrate it on twitter and laugh it off but truth is, it’s a zero sum game.

Towards, the ending of 2017, I realised managing conflict is a handy skill to have. Unfortunately, over time, my go-to social skill for managing conflict is usually sarcasm. And sarcasm has a twin brother called cynicism. Together, both siblings had grown significantly in my speech and attitude.

I had to consciously avoid using them. The real shocker was the fact that, this was frigging difficult! I kept stifling myself several times a day, just to keep from sarcastic retorts and cynical comments.

But stifle we shall.

  1. Be generous with praise and stingy with criticism

When you’re right, stifle the need to tell people – “I told you so”. They already feel bad enough.

  1. Become a cheerleader to others, especially your family and friends.

It’s easy to overlook those closest to us, I honestly don’t know why. This year, I tried to fix that, popping in regularly to let them know I believed in them and want them to succeed.

  1. Stay away from lazy people

Laziness is contagious. So is an industrious spirit. I learned this the hard way. If you want to improve in anything, first unclutter your life. Lazy people are everywhere – we are friends with them, we chat with them, we make plans with them on how to kill valuable time. There are also really diligent + focused people around. We know them so why not speak with them often, chat with them, learn from them? Let them inspire you to be better.

  1. Stay away from toxic people in general

Toxicity includes people who complain but refuse to do anything to fix the problem. This year, I noticed a lot of people kept seeing problems everywhere around them but they rarely if ever do anything to fix it. I’m not talking about big, national problems. I’m referring to personal everyday issues they face. They simply complain and that’s it. They go on with their daily routine or douse themselves with TV.

Another side of toxicity is numbness. A lot of people are passionless. They’ve lost their sense of wonder. They live for themselves alone, having nothing bigger to live for.

Newsflash: That’s called selfishness.

Been weeding out these people from my life all through 2017.

  1. There’s no such thing as a boring subject

My new job involves a lot of research around financial services, national development and policy. The past 6 months saw me reading, writing and interviewing major financial services ecosystem players in Nigeria and delving into the core of the dynamics of the sector.  On the last day of 2017, my dad asked me to tell him about my new job. And for the next 15 minutes, I talked about the Nigerian financial services sector and my work at the SIDFS initiative of Lagos Business School. You could see the light coming on in his eyes. He asked questions, smiled and nodded several times. Judging by the fact that there was a premiership match going on when we were talking, I think I did a good enough job keeping his attention (dad is a huge soccer fan!).

  1. Be more vocal with what you want

“I want a day off.”

“I want a raise.”

“I want to work from home twice a week.”

As long as you think it is valid, go ahead and ask. The worst that will happen is a no. And then you’ll be right back where you were just two seconds ago before you asked. So what exactly are you scared of again?

  1. People will always try to exploit you if you allow them to

I love helping people. And some people caught on to the fact that, Ibukun likes helping out. So they exploited it. This bothered me until I realised something – I do this shit cos I like doing this shit!

I’m doing it cos I care but I’m also doing it cos it feels good to help!

Most times, helping out is its own reward. After all, what else would you do? Watch them suffer? That’s worse.

  1. For writers, complement your writing with speaking

Learn how to talk. As someone who makes a living constructing words, I spend a lot of time in my own head. Social media has kind of exacerbated the situation cos I get to bypass speaking and just directly imprint my thoughts on a page.

Until it’s time to speak at a team meeting and I found myself stuttering and “ehmig and i-ing”. It’s really frustrating cos it makes you seem less competent than you really are. As a writer, speaking well can do wonders for your career. It’s a worthy investment.

  1. Love is worth the pain

In the search for love, you’ll go through a lot of disappointments. People will break your heart, take you for granted and mostly further their agendas. Yes, some will treat you right but the heartbreaks usually overshadow the good memories.

Underlying those horrible experiences is change. You’ll learn, you’ll grow, you’ll change. You’ll cry, yes. But you’ll also have some laughs along the way. You’ll learn to recognise and discern crushes. And side step them when cupid wants to shoot you that silly arrow. When love comes eventually, it will be worth it.

  1. Love is worth the wait

While waiting for the “one”, I’ve met loads of people. In the process of meeting and getting to know people, they’ve exposed my weak points. I’m glad these weaknesses are coming to light now and I’m getting to deal with them early. The wait means I get more time to grow. I get to be more patient, wiser, kinder, stronger and more disciplined.

Sometimes I look at the man I’m becoming. And I smile cos I’m growing.

Future wifey is in for a treat.

P.S. I hope you’re growing too!

  1. A lot of what happens on social media is posturing

People are aspirational. And that aspiration translates to social media. We are usually trying to portray an image of what we are, or what we think we are or what we hope to be. Hence, you can’t judge people based on their social media feed/timeline.

While this is understandable, I also believe we need to have integrity. As we age, we should be consolidating not fragmenting. Same life in church, at work, at home and ultimately online.

Tall order? Maybe, but I’m working towards a unified presentation of my life to all. Adopting this mentality has enabled me to re-examine what I share online. Even the discussions I join.

It’s not every conversation you need to join.

  1. Stop putting people on a pedestal, everyone is still figuring things out

Nobody has it all figured out. Even though some folks will not admit, we’re mostly just winging it through life. Unfortunately, it’s hard not to idealise them. And when we idealise them, we set the up to inadvertently disappoint us, big time.

Rather, the right attitude is to give people a large margin of error even though they will rarely ask for it. People are human so they will be selfish, forgetful, opportunistic and entitled.

No surprise. So are you.

So am I.

The important thing is: Are you changing?

Thanks for reading. Happy 2018.

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