Does Your Career Need Some Great Advice?

What’s the best career advice you’ve received?

Richard Branson’s answer to this question was “Never look back in regret; move on to the next thing”. He said his mother taught him that. “I have fun running ALL the Virgin businesses — so a setback is never a bad experience, just a learning curve.’

Good advice can come in different ways from many different people – if we’re prepared to seek it out, listen and give ourselves the opportunity to ‘try it on’ before we judge it. Great advice will never win against a bad attitude.

I was talking with a GM at Westpac a few days ago. She reflected back to the early stages in her career when she was offered a role she didn’t believe she was ready for. The advice she received was to go for it. The fact that someone else had more faith in her ability than she did, was the difference that made the difference. She believes that role was pivotal in shaping her career.

Sometimes it’s the simple things we need to remember that can help the most.

Yesterday I came across some handwritten ‘advice notes’ (see below) I’d made years ago during my corporate years. Looking at the notes again, I observed the themes of strength, self-awareness, and self-belief – the areas I probably struggled with the most back then and interestingly, I can see the same patterns in many of my clients – especially women.

Career principles:

  • Be able to articulate your career goals succinctly (in a couple of sentences).
  • Go for opportunities even if you don’t think you have the capability required.
  • Networking is a crucial part of business. It’s part of the job.
  • Have at least one mentor who you can grow from.
  • Be aware of what you tell yourself (successful people don’t beat themselves up).

Rules of the game:

  • Be strong (in your convictions. Stand for something. It’s not about pleasing others. You have to be strong when you need to be and have a voice).
  • Use language that is decisive and action orientated.
  • Don’t make justifications or excuses (it often covers up for your own needs of wanting to be liked and accepted).
  • Work to your audience – relate to them in ‘their world’.
  • You need to be able to position and promote yourself – it’s your job to have people understand what you’re good at.
  • Be self-contained – we need emotion but we need boundaries. Be self-aware.
  • Back yourself and have people prepared to endorse and sponsor you to help you get ahead.
  • Manage your ego – if you’re not conscious of it, you’re not in control of it.

What’s the best career advice you’ve received and what difference has it made? The advice you were given could be what someone else would love to hear right now.

It’s a good idea to surround yourself with a few key people who can provide you with sound advice when you need it – people who know you and want you to succeed. If you don’t have anyone like that right now, think about who you could foster a mentor relationship with and start there.

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