Valentine’s Day is all about sharing the love. It got me thinking about my career and the countless words of wisdom that I have received – a different kind of love.
It was hard to do, but here’s my Top Ten. Here’s hoping it may offer some wisdom for you too.
- “Everyone will tell you that you can’t have it all – it’s a lie.” At 24, when this successful female leader said this to me with such conviction, I believed her. “Some choices to be made along the way, but you can have a great family and a great career. I’m proof of it.” And, I learned over time that she was right.
- “No one will be more excited than you are about your work.” Great advice that people follow or listen to those who have enthusiasm and confidence in what they are doing. It’s essential.
- “It’s never as good as you think – or as bad as you think.” As a business owner, I recall this entrepreneur’s wisdom regularly. Stay steady and look at business over a longer period and don’t measure success on daily twists and turns.
- “Act like you have the role you want to have.” After a discussion on my career goals, this mentor told me that you have to think and act like you are already there. The rest will follow.
- “Plan the work. Work the plan.” This was the mantra at Accenture back in the day. Countless leaders said this. These two sentences still resonate with me and it is this powerful combination that is the magic in getting stuff done.
- “Be you – even if you are the only woman in the room.” This advice was given to me by the first senior female leader I had seen who didn’t ever hide some of herself to fit in with the guys. She was confident, fun, wise & totally respected. She personified the power of authenticity – long before Oprah said it mattered.
- “Just because you can solve a problem, doesn’t mean you should.” This was so counter to conventional wisdom. This wise leader’s point to me was that some problems are not yours to solve, that others need to fix it for it to work, and to consider the impact on other commitments if you jump in. This advice gave me new respect for restraint and redefined my definition of ‘being helpful’ at work.
- “This is not a *$#@ charity!” Now, this story of a very powerful leader who killed the idea of any employee profit-sharing is legendary in my circles. I saw up close that you have to prepare for bigger than life skepticism and when you think you have done your ROI prep – do it again. (They eventually introduced it, by the way, but not on that day.)
- “Don’t over think it. Just tell everyone what you are doing with confidence and passion. The rest will fall into place.” Wise counsel from the most amazing business development person I have ever met. His advice to me when I started PeopleResults to just be myself and share my story has really stuck with me.
- “Sometimes an introduction is the greatest gift you can give.” This role model had nothing to gain, but was so kind to me as I moved into my first big role. She said, “You need to meet him,” or, “I think she can really help you – let me set up lunch,” and, “Please come join my family for dinner since you are in town.” She was the example of how connecting others was the finest form of kindness and mentoring.
We spend half of our lives at work, let’s remember our work friends when we pass out the Valentines this year. A special thank you to those who offer us such wisdom that stands the test of time.
Patti Johnson is the CEO & Founder of PeopleResults. You can follow her on twitter @pattibjohnson or her company PeopleResults @people_results.