From infancy to adulthood, you have had loved ones to guide you, to show you right from wrong, and to pick you up when you fall. After the first few years of life, school introduced a new type of structured environment. Each and every day came with a clear set of instructions – you knew where to go, when to change, and what to do. Your success was measured in numbers, your friendships established by doting parents, and your skills developed by teachers. Everything was spelled out for you in black and white. There were no choices to be made, no problems to solve, and no radical transitions to adapt to. You simply needed to go through the motions to survive. Meanwhile, technology has only enforced your dependency. What used to be an arduous task can now be completed with the touch of a button, cell phones and the Internet render real human interaction obsolete, and Google makes problem-solving skills a thing of the past.
But with legal adulthood comes freedom, right? Wrong. Let’s face it, college was hardly a change from the confining walls of high school and overbearing parents. Sure, you were finally able to choose a major that interested you, stay up as late as you wanted drinking beer, and do your homework on your own time without someone looking over your shoulder. But is that reality? The big decisions are made for you. You were assigned a residence hall on campus, given an organized meal plan, and handed a list of course requirements. Again, the roadmap to success was right under your nose. Why think when someone has already done the thinking for you?
Finally, you were thrown into the work world, and boy does it suck! You found out that the reality you know and love is not actually real. As a small business owner, I represent the portion of the employment world that is actively hiring. Chances are, you’ll most likely end up working for a firm like mine. As your boss, I’m not going to hold your hand through every task. I’m not going to hand you a trophy or give you an “A” every time you do something right. And I’m certainly not going to be there to make every decision for you. I’m looking for someone with emotional intelligence, someone who can readily adapt to change, someone who is an innovator and a problem solver. I need all of those things in an employee because in the land of jobs, there is no workplace manual for you to consult. It’s up to you to prove yourself as both an independent worker and a collaborative team player. This is a world that depends on your ability to think for yourself.
If you end up with a “mean” boss, listen and learn from them. You can’t change bosses like you could professors, and Mom and Dad won’t be able to get you out of a signed contract. So your boss isn’t warm and fuzzy. It’ll push you to accept constructive criticism, improve your behaviors, and search for solutions to problems you’ve never seen before. Treat every obstacle as a learning experience because your first job sets the foundation for your career. Believe it or not, the decisions you make matter.
So before you take the plunge, ask yourself, What is my work IQ?