What Is the Best Advice You Have Ever Received?
How has one piece of advice transformed your life? Advice from our readers.
Last week I published the article, What Is the Best Advice You Ever Received, which recounts the words that transformed the lives of women leaders. I then posed the same question on LinkedIn, Twitter, and the Women In Product Facebook Group. I got a ton of insightful responses from others who have received life-changing advice. Today, I’m sharing ten of those responses that resonated with me. I also encourage you to reflect on the people in your life who have given you advice, and on the impact their words have had on you.
“Don't be afraid to win.”
Elizabeth Meza Umaña (on LinkedIn)
How true are these words? Rather than always being on the defensive, try going on the offensive. If you spend all your time being afraid to lose, then you are missing the chance to go for the win.
“Don't be the first one to say NO to yourself!”
Aruna Singh (in the Women In Product FB group)
Aruna said she heard this from a TikToker a while back. It is important to realize that every time you say “yes” to something, you are saying “no” to something else. Don’t let that “no” be to your well-being. Without proper self care and prioritization, you are setting yourself up for burnout. (A while back I wrote a post about saying no. You can find it here.)
“The berry season is short.”
Carrie Winecoff Shevelson (in the Women In Product FB group)
This quote comes from writer Laura Vanderkam: “The berry season is short. If you don’t haul yourself to the strawberry farm in June, by July the chance is gone. It is metaphorically true too.” At a time when we are juggling our careers and our families during a pandemic, we must learn to enjoy that which is fleeting. The seasons will keep changing, and one day we will wonder where the berry season went.
“You need to make them think it is THEIR idea.”
Jason Liu (on LinkedIn)
Jason mentioned that he heard this from a product manager. It was a lightbulb moment, the realization that being a great leader means being collaborative. When people feel engaged, and feel that what they’re doing matters, the quality of their work will show. Be inclusive. Don’t just take credit for your entire team’s work. Turn “me” into “we.”
"Showing your vulnerability can be a superpower…"
Gayatri Iyengar (on LinkedIn)
Gayatri’s advice is a great reminder that we are all vulnerable. Embrace it. Don’t hide from it; instead, turn it into something you can use. Vulnerability does not have to equate to weakness. How can you turn it into something you can use to your advantage?
“The bigger pie theory.”
Ananth Sankaranarayanan (on LinkedIn)
Instead of all fighting for a bigger piece of the pie, make the pie bigger so that everyone can have more. Rather than spend energy battling others for the same thing, learn to grow collaboratively. If everyone on your team spends their energy building and growing, there will be more than enough for everyone to have a bigger share, without shutting anyone out.
“What glass ceiling?”
Reneta Jenik (on LinkedIn)
When Reneta was talking to Judy Bruner about how she overcame the glass ceiling, Judy replied, “What glass ceiling?” Sometimes the perception of something holding you back from reaching your full potential is just that: a perception. Learn to ask yourself, “Am I what’s holding me back?” What would you do if you didn’t see a glass ceiling, and instead just saw potential?
“You can’t complain about it if you’re not gonna do something about it.”
Christine Zhu (on Twitter)
Are you going to be part of the problem or part of the solution? A good friend told Christine this, and it reminded her that she needed to be someone of action. If you find that you are about to launch into complaining mode, give some of that energy into how you would affect change.
"Put a basket out front with a cloth at the bottom. Maybe we can catch some for breakfast."
Edith Alfaro (in the Women In Product FB group)
Edith recalled being bullied growing up for not being like others. People would egg her house, and her mother gave her this advice one day when Edith was in tears about it. Edith laughed, and they actually retrieved one egg that survived. To this day, she remembers that egg. What is your one egg, and how will you catch it?
"Be kind, be tolerant, and give space to others. You don't know what they might be dealing with, so something as simple as being generous to others and a smile can make all the difference in their day."
Tim Polson (on LinkedIn)
As I wrote about in my article on empathy, you can never really know what someone is going through. There is enough chaos in the world that a little bit of kindness goes a long way. At a time when compassion can be in short supply, this advice is more important than ever.
What is the best advice you've ever received? If these suggestions resonated with you, try taking stock of the advice that has helped you in your own life. Consider keeping a journal (digital or paper) of any advice that strikes you, whether it comes from a supervisor, a coworker, a friend, or a mentor. Look back on it from time to time, especially when you're struggling or you find yourself at an important crossroads. As you look back at the advice you've received, you may find that a suggestion is more relevant or impactful in hindsight than it was when it was given to you. By noting and reflecting on the advice you've been given, you can gain the perspective you need to change your path.
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