It is natural to work hard to avoid one or more among bad workplaces, poor work experiences and incompetent managers. And we should. But, it is also hard to overstate their value in the long run when we do find ways to overcome them when they happen.
Spend a bit of time reflecting on your painful experience and you walk away with perspective that will stay with you for the rest of your life. It is very hard to appreciate what is really bad if your experience of work only involves fancy office spaces, free food, projects that involve smart colleagues and hyper growth, and thoughtful managers.
However, if you’ve worked in a mind numbing data entry job, dealt with a manager who never failed to make you feel insecure or cleaned toilets at a restaurant for three months, it makes it a lot easier to appreciate what you have.
I don’t think the takeaway is to go seeking bad career experiences. But, I do think there is value in seeking varied experiences in our careers – especially in the early days. One of the biggest benefits of doing so is that some of those varied experiences will turn out to be bad.
And, while great workplaces typically help build great careers, bad experiences can give us the sort of perspective that can help us build happier lives.
PS: If all you have experienced is a great work environment, this is just a reminder to work extra hard to be conscious of all the privilege and be grateful.