Holiday season makes many of us nostalgic. This year, with all that has happened, the longing for happier times seems more powerful.
Listening to music from our youth is a good way to get a daily dose of feel good vibes. Nothing gets me through a tough day like listening to some Tori Amos or Pearl Jam. I remember what it was like to be young and free with enough spare time to analyze song lyrics.
Another thing that satisfies my cravings for simpler times is thinking about all the people who’ve helped me when I needed it with great advice. Passing on wisdom to the next generation at work or with your family is a loving tradition. When you’ve discovered a secret to how life works and you share it, you help the next person have an easier time.
In honor of that great and loving tradition, I offer you the best advice I’ve ever received. I’m grateful for each individual who cared enough to make my life’s journey a little bit easier.
When All Else Fails, Read the Directions
This advice was given to me by my highschool AP chemistry teacher, of blessed memory, E.J. George. He would say those seven words to the class before each exam. It made us stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and settle down. Once the students were in this calmer place, we were able to remember what we learned about chemical equations. This is the single piece of advice that I use more often than any other. If I can’t figure out some new feature of the software we use at work or I’m trying to understand an upgrade on my mobile phone, I stop and “read the directions.” Every time I do this, I’m able to figure out the problem.
Stay Out of The Fray
Don’t hang out with those that try to disrupt the work environment by tearing others down through gossip. I learned this lesson the hard way in my early twenties when I participated in a “gripe session” about one of our supervisors. Word of our conversation got back to this supervisor, as it always does. She never trusted me again after that. And I can’t say that I blame her.
When you’re a part of this kind of negative behavior, you could hurt someone’s feelings or even damage someone’s reputation. Avoid the troublemakers if you can. If you cannot, make an effort to change the culture by confronting people directly with solutions to problems. Make the choice to not talk behind the backs of other people.
If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, Don’t Say Anything At All
This advice is a good preventative measure for when you want to spout off in anger about something. This advice is NOT for when you’ve forgotten to stay out of the fray. If you’re silent in the presence of gossip, the silence could be construed as agreement. I encourage you to consider making this way of speaking a habit. Before you speak, ask yourself, “Is what I’m about to add to this topic, kind?” If it’s not kind or helpful in any way, choose to stay silent instead.
You Have to Give a Little to Get A Little
This gem came from the women pharmacists at MetroHealth Medical Center. These women took me under their collective wings and raised me up from a little baby pharmacist. I am most grateful for this basic tenet of negotiation. If you really want something, you should be willing to give up something in return. Initially, I used this in negotiating for new schedules when I started having kids. If I wanted to cut my hours back and still keep my job, I would offer to work more evenings and weekends in exchange. In any negotiation, always be willing to give something to the other side. This has served me not only at work, but in my marriage, with my kids, and with my extended family.
My Advice to You
Because passing down pearls of wisdom is incredibly valuable, and there are so many young people in need of good advice, I suggest you give advice this holiday season. Literally. Here’s what I mean: Buy a pack of index cards. Send one or two blank index cards and a self-addressed stamped envelope to the elders of your family. Enclose a note that asks them to write on that card a piece of advice that has served them well during their lifetime and send it back to you. It could be words of caution or something that they’ve learned. I did this for my son for his college graduation. I had collected dozens of cards from family members. I assembled the cards into a book. You could also put the cards in a box if you want.
Either way, the young person will have a gift that will serve him or her forever. Advice from others makes you feel connected, cared for, and valued.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?