Seeking out career guidance can be a wise move. However, you also need to interrogate the advice and ensure it is valid. Always reflect on advice given and consider its applicability to you. Here are 8 pieces of advice, I believe we should all question.
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Here are eight pieces of career advice you must throw in the trash
Follow your dreams
” A lot of people dream. And while they are dreaming, the really interesting, powerful and engaged people are busy doing“. Shonda Rhimes. Do I need to mention who Shonda is? She is the Creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal (The Fixer), How to Get Away with Murder.
Better Advice: Just work. Know your dream or goal but then tomorrow take action towards that, so you are working towards concrete actions. That is working towards an outcome. Not just dreaming.
Women should pick a career that has flexibility to accommodate their future family (even if they don’t have a one right now)
I love how Sheryl Sandberg laid it out. “Don’t leave before you leave”. Women sometimes avoid demanding professions, or projects at the start of their career because they are thinking about their ‘future family needs’.
Cross that bridge when you get to it. For now go for what is interesting and what you want to do. You do not know what like choices you will make when or if you do start a family.
Rather: Make decisions, for now, go for that interesting assignment. Go for that international experience. You don’t know what the future holds. And you can make the decision later, whatever the decision is.Stay engaged until you are at the point where you need to make a work life balance decision. Click To Tweet
‘Establish yourself in yourself twenties then can settle down in your thirties’
Work work work in your twenties then you can ‘slow down later and have children.’
My view of the world: Start as you mean to go on. Wonderfully talented people, are working incredibly hard in their twenties. Then wake up in their thirties and lost out on a bulk of their personal development and have not invested in important personal relationships. Friends, romantic partnerships, travelling, etc. Work yes, work hard. But also LIVE in your TWENTIES!!
You need to reach your full potential
What exactly does this mean? Its seems all too ‘heavy’. Is full potential an end goal, like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? Only in this case, ‘full potential’ is at the end? Do we all start at the bottom of the triangle with 10% potential, 25 % potential and so on?
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Instead: Just focus on working each day (in your own business or at work) to add value to your environment and continue to learn. If you bring value and you are making a positive impact on others, you are achieving. That is the goal. Add value and keep learning.
By the way, people change, industries change, careers change. It’s cool, let us just be present and engaged to adding value right now. Who knows what will inspire you in 5 years time?
Work hard, and rewards will follow
I am just going to state this bluntly. This is not TRUE! Working hard is not enough.
You need to add value to the business measurable goals but guess what you also need to, self-promote, manage sideways and manage up. You need to ensure that the right people are aware of what you have done.
You need to manage sideways, and build good relationships with peers, and your team. Lastly but very importantly you need to manage up. Your management needs to feel you add value. You need sponsorship. Only then, will the rewards come. I hate to break it to you, but you can be working your bum off. If no one knows, you will not get recognised.
Don’t be too emotional at work
Do not talk about your children. Don’t show your personality at work. Do not cry at work (come on ladies, we all know women cry at work more than men!). Do you and be you. Be professional yes! But, show people who you are. Bring yourself to work.Bring yourself to work. You do not need to be a carbon copy of everyone else. Click To Tweet
Take the job that you are already good at
Are you being advised to do something because you have been doing it for however many years. Is that what you really want, doing the same thing for the next few decades of your career? If the answer is yes that is okay, but be honest with yourself. I am not saying, leave your job, but you can seek out new ways of innovating and stretching yourself in your current role.
Accept this: We don’t need to know everything. You can learn something by doing. Your comfort zone is a place where limited learning will happen.
Being uncomfortable is where the learning happens, so go for it and learn by doing.
Attend Women Networking and Leadership Programmes
Okay, I don’t think we should throw this away completely, I just believe that you should be open-minded and make this type of programme a supplement to general programmes.
I had an interesting discussion with a young leader earlier this year. And she advised me that she has a considerably low interest in Female Leadership programmes, there were better programmes she wanted to attend. I was shocked – why I asked. Thinking how ungrateful as there were fantastic opportunities at hand. She proceeded to advise me that:
- The programme because it is targeted towards women, made her feel she was ‘deficient’ in some way for being a woman.
- Leadership is leadership, and besides,
- She wants to learn and connect with women AND MEN.
A Balanced view: Leadership programmes targeted towards women are good as it can address challenges faced by women unique to use (e.g., challenges with self-promotion, and asking for what we want, parental responsibilities). However, it should be seen in the context of your full development. Women need to learn from other women, other mothers, as we may have similar challenges, but we also need to learn from men.
Any other pieces of career advice you think we should question?
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