When You’re Young: 9 Things to Do When You’re New
Being the youngest person on the team or at work can be difficult. Once upon a time I was the youngest, I've had friends who've joined teams as the youngest, and we've all been the newest at least once in our life if not the youngest too. From my experience, when you're the youngest or newest person on any team can be like standing at the base of a mountain, looking up, and hoping you can prove that you deserve to be there.
“Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12
When I found myself as the youngest person on the team, there are 9 things I had to keep in mind.
When You're Young: 9 Things to Do When You're New:
- Leave the past in the past
- Don't forget your past
- Be humble
- Believe you joined the team for a reason
- Don't lose yourself
- Remember, Old doesn't mean better
- Remember, New doesn't mean better
- Realize it's never too early to make a difference
- Prioritize your personal growth
1: Leave the past in the past. After graduating from school, no one asked me for my GPA. No one asked what fraternity I was in or what clubs I joined. In fact, no one in the department even knew where I'd gone to school until I wore a polo shirt showing the Baylor logo on game day. Sic'Em Bears! The only thing anyone was concerned about was whether I could do the job I was hired to do. Leave the past in the past and start new!
When you're young, or older, you can't look forward if you're always looking back. The past is history. Regardless of whether your past was bright or not, you can make today your runway for a better tomorrow.
2: Don't forget your past. Even though we have to look forward to move forward, we can't forget about our past. Just because no one asked me about my GPA from college doesn't mean I should ignore what I learned and who I became during that time in my life. You've gotten to where you are because of where you've been. Your past has helped mold and form you but it doesn't have to define who you are. You and I can learn from our successes and our mistakes to take us where we want to go. What you learned in school, when combined with what you've learned in life, creates a powerful set of experiences that only you will have.
3: Be humble. Approach your new position with humility. When you're young, you can learn a lot from your older or more tenured team members, and, if you're humble, they can teach you how to be successful. Whether your entire team is new or you are joining a team of veterans, arrogance won't win you any friends. Start humble and stay humble.
4: You joined the team for a reason. Remember, you were chosen to be a part of the team for a reason; someone saw your potential and that person expects you to bring your experience, expertise and personality to the job. Those assets could be what you learned in school, the experience you gained in your previous position or even your capacity for growth. Whatever the reason, you were brought on the team to make a positive difference. Believe that you belong there; you deserve to be there.
5: Don't lose yourself. You are the sum of that in which you invest your time and energy. In other words, your time plus your effort becomes who you are. There is no one like you; you are unique. And no one has had the same experiences as you. Bring all of that knowledge with you into your new role. Don't forget what makes you who you are and the value you can bring to your relationships. Even when you're young, you are worth something and you have value to offer.
6: Old doesn't mean better. Just because wine gets better with age doesn't mean your co-workers do as well. The world changes so fast that the only thing that stays the same is the fact that everything changes. Your teammates, co-workers and colleagues aren't better simply because they've been around longer. Wisdom does come with age and experience but just because someone is older doesn't mean they are better. Respect has to be earned, knowledge has to be gained and experience has to happen over time. Don't let someone fault you just because you haven't been around as long; it's not your fault. Experience is a great teacher but we can also learn from the mistakes, and wisdom, of those around us.
7: New doesn't mean better. When you're young, new, or fresh out of school, you feel like you can take on the world. You've spent most of your life gaining knowledge, learning new skills and training to make your impact on the world. When you're young it's easy to fall into the mindset that you'll take the workplace by storm, transforming terrible processes, impressing everyone around you and becoming the MVP of your team. Don't make that mistake. Be humble. Learn from your new teammates and peers. If you see something that could be improved upon, try to figure out why things are the way they are before you go in and tell everyone what they're doing is wrong. Sometimes processes and procedures grow out of necessity, not out of what is the most efficient. New doesn't always mean better; if it did, we wouldn't have things like “classics” and phrases like, “aged to perfection.”
8: It's never too early to make a difference. A smiling face, a well-dressed appearance and a positive attitude can make all the difference. When you're young, or even when you're older for that matter, I wouldn't suggest stirring the pot your first week, but I would recommend being a source of positivity and exhibiting a “can-do” attitude. Take on challenges, even if you think they're over your head. When you're young and make mistakes, or fail to achieve goals, you can always blame being new. But stepping up to a challenge and offering to help in any and every way possible is a great way to make a difference.
9: Prioritize your personal growth. “Ellory, I think it's time for you to focus more on your personal development.” Those words have never been said to me. Every time I find myself as the new person on the team, I have to figure out what I don't know. When you're new to a team, and especially when you're young , you have to schedule time for your own personal growth. Only you can determine how bad you want to succeed. If you're looking for a place to start your journey of personal development, I've collected a list of resources and recommendations here.
When you're young, don't let anyone put labels on you or try to hold you back. We were all young once, and age and time are relative. Young people do great things, you just have to believe in yourself.
If you know someone on your team who is young , or you have a family member who could benefit from my experience and advice, please share this article with them and please leave a comment for me in the section below!