Growing up, I had always heard this phrase a lot from my mother: “What is worth doing at all is worth doing well”. It became annoying at a point because she always used that phrase anytime she sends us an errand that is obviously inconvenient for us and we end up doing it shabbily, she would re-echo those words and send us back to do it well.
I always ponder on those words anytime I am about to start a task that is somewhat inconvenient for me, or I am about to do something that would end up like what the Yorubas fondly call ‘ise pemi pada’ (the work you would have to call someone back to do). This is particularly common with carpenters, mechanics, plumbers, etc.
I remember during my interview for my first HR role after making a decision to transit from Chemical Engineering. My boss(the interviewer) asked me one key question: “Yewande, how would your parents feel after sending you to school for 5 years (plus 1 year ASUU strike), you finished with a good grade and you would now tell them that you want to move to HR?”
With a deep breath, I pondered about how my parents would feel. But knowing how my parents are, I smiled because it wasn’t going to be a problem. My mum would always give an analogy when growing up, “Yewande, even if it’s clapping and dancing you want to study in school, I don’t care, just ensure you do it well.”
So when I got home and told her that I went for an interview in HR and I think I want to try HR since no chemical engineering job is coming forth, she just smiled and said: “no problem, HR is a good career path”. She then ensured I register for CIPM quickly. Mind you, I had put my hands in different career paths like Coding, Networking, HSE, even an internship in Environmental Stuff at Benin Republic. It was like I had different career paths which I always wanted to try every 3months of my life and she was never bothered. She just always mentioned that whatever I want to do, I should ensure I succeed at it and that she and my dad were ready to support my ever-changing passions.
Here are three major lessons you can learn from my mother:
Early Career Starters
You may just be finishing school and wondering what on earth you want to do with your life. Like me, you may have so many options and interests but you’re not still sure of what you have a passion for (in most cases, interest comes first before passion). I’ll like to encourage you to just try as many as you can.
I always tell people that it’s not bad for you to be confused, it just shows you really have a genuine interest for growth but unable to navigate properly. Sometimes, trial and error can help you realize what you want and don’t want. If you have the luxury of time to invest in a lot of personal study and development, by all means, do so.
For you, it may seem too late for trial and error. But one thing I have observed from a lot of mid-career professionals that are unsatisfied with their job is their work ethics. The fact that you’re unhappy with your job doesn’t give you an excuse to work shabbily and not take things seriously because you really have no idea where the breakthrough would come from. What is the quality of your work? How can people rely on you to get the job done? What do people say about your professionalism when you’re not in the room? These are signs you need to heed to my mother’s advice.
For all professionals, regardless of your level
One common factor among highflyers, regardless of where they are, is the trait of ‘excellence’ in all they do. Ensuring personal excellence drives home the initial lesson my mother always tried to instill in us when growing up ‘what is worth doing at all is worth doing well’.
When you don’t take things for granted and you don’t settle for mediocre results, you would most likely thrive in whatever you do.
Think about it very well and see how you can apply it to all areas of your life, especially your career.
I wish you the best in your career!