How to succeed in the workplace

Lisa Olson
5 min readOct 16, 2019

I’m actively working on this and feel there’s many areas I could improve on. But here’s some consolidated tips and approaches for having a more successful work experience.


Really care about what you do. Care about the part you play, no matter how insignificant. Care about the people you work with and the project you get to be a part of. Even if you hate your job, appreciate that this is a second, minute, hour of your life that you won’t get back. This is how you’re spending your time for this moment. Care, not for anyone else necessarily, but for you. To know that you’re putting your heart into your life. This is how you’re spending your time, therefore it’s how you’re spending your life. And it really does matter. And having that attitude will change things.

Encourage your coworkers

Publicly affirm the people you work with. Not just individually, but in front of management, in front of other engineers. This helps so much to build trust and camaraderie. This might never get reciprocated. You’ll have to embrace that and be okay with it. Even if you get thrown under the bus, continue to do this. It’s creating a culture and a movement (even if it’s an individual one) of the type of person you want to be. And that’s absolutely worth something.


The infamous word. Communication. This is a difficult one. How to know when to communicate when you’re frustrated, who to communicate it to, how to say it, if you should say it at all.

Here’s some tips I’ve found that have helped. Try to match bringing up problems with potential solutions. Always speak in terms of ‘we’ and ‘our’, never ‘you’ or ‘your’. Only bring things up when you know you’re in a healthy state of mind to say it kindly and respectfully. If there is no solution, or no solution you can think of, maybe it’s not the best time to bring it up. Once you’ve brought it up and felt there was understanding on both sides, it’s probably not best to bring it up again. At that point, it’s in the team’s hands, or management’s hands how they will handle it.

Be open to feedback

Work is one of the few opportunities where we get to quantitatively improve. This is such a rare thing to be able to get feedback on how we’re doing in a certain area and then make steps and plans to get there. Feedback is a chance to not take anything personal, but instead truly and actively improve on a skillset. Approaching it with openness and gratitude can take you such a long way with management and yourself.

Give yourself breaks

This is super important for me. Go outside. Go on walks. Physically get up often. Drink water. If your job is physically taxing, sit down. Sit in the shade. Take deep breaths. Take a minute to find something that makes you laugh. Take your mind off of work. Let yourself focus on something else for a while.

This is crucial when you’re trying to solve a problem. Sometimes I find the best solution when I was outside on a walk. That’s when I come in and actually make progress.

No gossip. No negativity.

Work is a great place for negativity, unfortunately. The new guy. The bad boss. The disappointing benefits. The monotonous problems that never go away. The long commute. The weather. The annoying project. We don’t like the WiFi speed, we’re irritated with the glare. There’s an incessant list of things any person could be complaining about at any moment.

Don’t be one of them. Don’t fall into it. Be better. Be elevated. Be the one who chooses positivity, the one who doesn’t talk behind people’s back, the one who finds the good in every situation.

If you already don’t like your job, I can tell you the fastest way to hate it more is to verbally express negativity and gossip. It’s the anchor to a sinking ship.

Speak up

Be bold, be known. Speak up in meetings. Make sure people know you’re there. Put yourself out there. Even if it’s for no other reason than networking. You and a number of other people are all in this together, for this time. You may as well get to know who you’re ‘in the ring’ with. You generally become more approachable when you speak up. I’ve noticed people talk to me way more often after I’ve spoken up than when I’m silent.

Laugh at yourself

This is the hardest for me. I take myself seriously and I want to be taken seriously. But work is the best opportunity to laugh at yourself, laugh at your mistakes, laugh at ridiculous situations. If you’ve been put in a lose-lose, if you did something that made you embarrassed, if someone is being completely unreasonable… laugh. Really, everything is pretty funny if you sit and think about it long enough.


If you are one of the lucky ones to have a job, it really is something to be thankful for. The ability to go somewhere you can contribute to, provide value to it, and receive compensation for it is a rewarding thing. It really does provide a sense of purpose and worth and it’s something thousands of people wish they had. It really is something to be thankful for, to have a job. If you’re able to tap into thankfulness, it changes your outlook on a job.

Practice every day

We get a new chance, every single day, to be this person. We could be the biggest gossip at the office today, and never gossip again tomorrow. We could be pessimistic and angry and impatient yesterday, but optimistic, excited, and patient today. We get a chance to become whoever we want every single day, every moment, really. Don’t be defined by who you think your coworkers think you are, or who you thought you were. Don’t box yourself in. Redefine who you want to be today. And if you mess up, you get another chance now, and again, and again. It’s a process and we really do get to practice becoming our best selves every day.

I hope this was encouraging and motivating whoever read this far. I’m working on this all the time and am glad to hear/share thoughts and feedback any time.



Lisa Olson

Front End Developer. Passionate about everything I do. How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.