I completed my 10th hourly job this week in Jackson Hole, Wyoming at Persephone Bakery.
I want to be awesome at every new job I work.
I have this unrealistic dream that I will be the best barista, best security officer, best lifeguard, and best food runner there ever was. The only problem? I work a new job every week, so I screw up a bunch. I make a ton of mistakes on every new job I work. I've dropped large pallets of tile, messed up orders, and learned the hard way how to not hold a mat when being kicked by a black belt.
The good news is I've learned that you can control what kind of mistakes you make, for the most part. There are two different kinds of mistakes everyone makes on the first day of a new job.
Awesome mistake- It's your first day on the new job and you jump in headfirst. You conquer those nerves when your new boss asks you to shape the dough together into a loaf of bread. Your piece of dough looks more like a flattened nerf ball than it does a loaf of bread. But that's okay, because you were brave enough to embrace the failure and give it your best.
Lame mistake- It's the first day of your job and you're a little nervous.You don't want to disappoint your boss so instead of diving right in you wait around to see how other people are doing it. You spend most of the first day observing fellow co-workers instead of getting dirty. Finally towards the end of the day your boss comes back around and asks you to shape a loaf of bread from dough. Your loaf looks like a very sad lump of mush. All of your observing didn't serve you when it came to actually completing your task. As it turns out, you could have spent all day making bad loaves and vastly improving instead of watching other people.
The point is, you're going to drop the ball. It's inevitable. When you start a new job, you're going to have hiccups. But it's important to treat these moments as what they are, learning experiments. Make a proactive mistake instead of a lackadaisical one.
I showed up to work in a bakery this week (hint: why I included the bread metaphor). The owner arrived a half hour after I showed up. He was supposed to instruct me on my job for the day, however, there were plenty of employees already working. I had a choice to make. I could either wait around until he arrived, or I could ask a fellow employee to help me get started.
You better believe I plowed into baking some delicious s'mores.
After thirty minutes of work, he arrived and was pleased to see I hadn't hesitated to cover myself in flour. I could tell it was meaningful to him that I didn't wait for permission, but I took initiative and started before he had to instruct me on my job.
Was I nervous about starting before I was given permission? Heck yes. I didn't want him to show up and question me, "Who is this kid shaping dough in my bakery?"
In some scenarios it's better to ask permission later. On the first day of your job, give yourself the chance to make mistakes and fail. Don't worry about how good or bad you are at the new role. We all struggle on our first day. It's always a little awkward, so make the most of it and fail with a proactive mindset.
Jump into that flour and make awesome mistakes.