Sink or Swim

Sink or Swim
Posted on Jan 13, 2019 in Devotions by  Shiela Bernardo

I was led back to a time when I was new to a job, and I didn’t yet possess the skills to even be independently operational in my day-to-day responsibilities. I remember the grueling effort to learn the analytical and technical demands of my role. Many instances put me on edge, and it was absolutely a sink or swim point, where the water level was just below my nose. I was so overwhelmed, to say the least.
Like many, I started at the bottom of the barrel.  When I was first navigating the workplace here in the US, I held multiple jobs such as a receptionist at a doctor’s office, and a part-time massage therapist.  Then I had my foot in the door in the banking industry as a customer service representative working night shifts in a call center. 
There were a lot days when I sure felt I wasn’t even qualified to do the job. But somehow I made it through the thick of candidates for a highly esteemed position in Strategies.  And I’m not about to waste this rare opportunity for a breakthrough in my career. I fought through the learning curve and believed that there isn’t anything I can’t learn if I put my mind to it.  It was grit,  amped with much prayers, but most definitely by the grace of God how I managed. 


It feels like eons ago; but this was only seven years ago. Over the years of sticking to it, I’ve become comfortable at a specialized skill of computer programming. I can speak this language today with ease, and I know how to write and build structures of code, which to me feels like poetry. I am fascinated by how I’ve moved into an entirely different headspace, and what was once an intimidating task has shifted to become one of my absolute favorite things to do daily.


Now that I have what I need to be successful at my job, it is convenient to enclose myself in a bubble and go about my own business. There’s a temptation of selfish ambition to keep the knowledge all for myself. I can very easily choose not to trouble myself to pour into someone else.  Let the others take the hard road by themselves to purify the top of the heap.


I’ve caught myself one too many times with a feeling of irritability when many newbies in my organization seek help and guidance. Much like that customer service representative on the other end of the line which sounds like she was coerced by her life problems why she shows up at all and answers the phone. Or like that rude worker in a government agency who has an uninviting demeanor that counts the minutes to his next break. For me, I recognized that pride seeped in and took the joy out of my work when I’m unwilling to offer help. I’ve displaced my attitude from a position of service.


Back in my novice days, there was actually someone who was senior of my level who took the time to invest in my growth and learning. He was sort of like a master ninja sensei of (SAS) coding, and I looked up to him a lot. I was so grateful that he took me under his wings to help me get ahead in a hostile corporate dog-eats-dog environment. He did so expecting nothing in return, except that he encouraged me to pass it on.


I’ve now been able to stand on my own two feet after years of pedaling with training wheels. I learned that if you want to make a difference in your place of work, then do these:


1) Seek out a mentor and humbly be on the receiving end of instruction

2) Be a mentor and do for others what they can’t do for themselves

3) Plug yourself in a strong support system that keeps your skills polished



“If you want to be successful on the highest level, be willing to serve on the lowest.” – Mark Cole

Embrace an attitude of servanthood as this is a commendable position. Don’t just look out for yourself but look out for others also.  When you get to your shore, throw a life boat to someone else so they don’t sink and drown. It will make a world of difference on how you see opportunities in your job to excel. You’ll turn the archetype completely upside-down when you become a kind of leader who undergoes a personal transformation from being egotistic to humble, leading and serving seamlessly.

“But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:43-45

♥ Shiela Bernardo volunteers as the Communications Director of GSBC. She is a budget nerd who is keen to stay on track with her family’s goals. She perpetually seeks to demystify how to keep the house clean. She is a business analyst by profession & a self-taught computer programmer. She blogs about family, faith, and finances in her spare time. 

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