Career Tool: Lessons Learned List

This is the season of list making, and I’d like to recommend making a list like the one maintained by Rebecca Neale, a 26-year-old staffer in the White House press office.  After referring to Rebecca’s list in a recent speech to PR students at the University of Alabama, I was encouraged to share it more broadly.

Rebecca makes a practice of regularly reflecting on just completed projects, asking herself:  “What are the lessons learned and how might I have done things better?”  She maintains and continually updates her own Top 10 List of Professional Lessons Learned.  Here’s her current list:

  1. Live beyond the “now.”
  2. You are your own best advocate.
  3. Play to your strengths.
  4. Career building happens through networking — keep those networks alive.
  5. Manage up.
  6. The devil is in the details — work to get things done right the first time.
  7. “Eighty percent of success is showing up” (Woody Allen) — and stepping up.
  8. In the work environment, keep your personal life personal.
  9. Learn from your wins and losses — and those of others.
  10. Make the most of your current situation — every experience is a learning opportunity.

The process of maintaining a list like Rebecca’s allows us to reflect on what went well and how we might have done something better.  It’s a simple process that doesn’t require much time.  I’m starting my list before January 1 as a replacement for previously never-fulfilled New Year resolutions. 

2 comments on this post.
  1. Erin:

    I’m curious about no. 8 – keeping your personal life personal. I agree with this, but also wonder how the prevalence of online networking/social media tools has altered this.

  2. Ron Culp:

    It may be a generational point of view, but I feel far too much personal information is being shared online. The Today Show (12/7/08) carried a report about employers who check social networking sites to gain information about prospective employees. The expert’s advice: Limit your social networks to friends you know well, and assume that everything you put online will be read by a future boss.

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