Want my best career advice?
It’s not the normal stuff like:
- Align your passions with what a company is willing to pay for (but yes, do this).
- Always deliver on your commitments (but yes, do this).
- Do the job you currently have, not the one you want (but yes, do this).
- Increase your self-awareness by encouraging feedback on your blind spots (but yes, do this).
- Proactively take on projects outside your comfort zone (but yes, do this).
- Regulate your emotions and increase your self-control (but yes, do this).
- Be on time, be productive, focus on outcomes, be collaborative, and talk less (but yes, do all these).
Rather, my best career advice is to:
- Friend up.
Associate yourself with people who are better educated, more well-traveled and cultured, older, wiser, smarter, and more successful. This doesn’t mean becoming an opportunist and sucking up to the boss, or the boss’s boss. Nor does it mean abandoning peers, or friends and colleagues in need. You’ll find your balance.
My career success is directly correlated to deliberately surrounding myself with (generally older) people who’d already made massive mistakes that I could learn from and not repeat. Could teach me what to look out for and what to avoid. Had the courage and diplomacy to call out my mistakes and bad behaviors. Many of my friends are twenty years older than me, which has been the case my entire adult life.
Look around—who’s in your posse? How many CEOs? How many retirees? How many mayors or council members? How many board members or trustees? How many elders that have seasoned lessons you can learn from?
And it works both ways—what are you offering them? I trust that those I’ve friended up are well aware of my strategy, and they’ve been happy to oblige. I also think they’ve benefited in some ways from an association with me. Because I make sure they do.
At first blush, friending up may feel opportunistic. Put some space between the stimulus and your response and challenge that paradigm. Life is all about relationships, so surround yourself with people who positively influence you. We are simply better when we associate with better.
Who are you going to friend up to today?
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