No matter where you work, it’s happened to all of us: You’re handed a responsibility that’s seemingly out of your “job description.” Most of us grin and bear it, all the while internally grumbling “I did not go to school for this” or “This is taking away from what I really need to be working on right now.”
For example, one of my coworkers shared with me that at a past job she was tasked with sending out surveys for her team. In her case, it actually was part of her job description, but she felt it was time-consuming, mundane, and completely disconnected from her main role.
However as time went on, she began to see how these surveys helped determine the team’s next projects and decisions. As such, she began to investigate best practices for survey building and even attended off-site training sessions to fine-tune her skills.
She soon realized that what she thought was a job that she had been assigned because no one else wanted to do it was actually an opportunity to stand out and become the company’s go-to expert in that area. Not only that, but this newly acquired skill has helped her even after she left the company as she can talk intelligently about surveying in her new position.
She is naturally a positive person, so I’m not at all surprised that she found the silver lining. But I want you to consider that there’s more to it than attitude when approaching work that appears outside of your wheelhouse—it’s actually about aptitude.
One of the things I distinctly remember about my time in Boy Scouts was having the opportunity to learn about a Swiss Army Knife. As you most likely know, a Swiss Army Knife is a multi-tool that can be used for almost anything. Knife? Check. Can opener? Check. Toothpick? Check. Tweezers? Check.
What was ingenious about the Swiss Army Knife is that it took a single-function device, a knife, and turned it into a multifunctional survival tool.
Organizations like Boy Scouts do a great job teaching life skills to children. One of the lessons I learned was, like a Swiss Army Knife, one should approach their career from many different angles and with many different tools. If you are always learning new skills and applying them, you’ll be valuable to your organization and also prepare yourself for additional opportunities. When opportunities present themselves, take them! Never miss an opportunity to expand your toolset—it may be the doorstep to your next opportunity.
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