The Best Career Advice
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given? What made it the best? Was it from your Grandma? Your neighbour? A stranger you chatted with on a park bench? Have you just been “winging it” this whole time?
I think a lot about all the career advice out there. After all, it’s my job. Perhaps like you, when I read articles online, much of the advice sounds the same, some of it common sense and some of it contradictory. There’s some good career advice, there’s some useless career advice and then there’s a whole bunch in between. One thing I’ve noticed is that most of us appreciate a tip or two from someone who has “made it” or appears to have figured out how to actually pay their bills by following their "passion".
A Tidbit of Career Advice
This morning, as I was tidying up the aftermath of getting kids out the door to school, I popped on the tribute to Gord Downie at the Juno Awards my husband recorded the other night.
I was also very interested to watch one of my favourite bands dating back to my university “pub night” days, Barenaked Ladies, get inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame! In between my sobbing (the combination of watching the outpouring of love for Gord Downie plus seeing Ed Robertson and Steven Page back together again was almost too much to take!), I heard Ed give a tidbit of career advice—sort of in jest, but sort of not. He said: “To any kids out there with a dream, this can happen—so drop out of school as soon as possible!”
Fans of Barenaked Ladies know, there are likely many lessons—career, life, etc. to take away from their journey. Geddy Lee, Rush’s front man who was bestowing this honour on them at the awards ceremony, actually kind of summed some of these up. So, before you quit your job with your best friend, brother and a couple of buddies and head into the garage to jam, please read a little more.
Mr. Lee went on to describe some of what makes Barenaked Ladies truly remarkable and a few of the “special attributes that set them apart.” He listed 3 things:
1) “Their adventurous song writing spirit.”
2) The fact they “possess a definite sense of where they are from.”
3) What “great effin’ musicians they all are”.
I’m sure it’s no surprise that I will now relate these 3 things to steps to consider if you are contemplating career change, trying to find your best career, or are feeling stuck. Here goes:
My Take on Career Advice from Geddy Lee
1) View your career as an adventure! Take some chances and as many opportunities as possible to experiment. Try some things you haven’t done and do them with gusto!! Have some fun!!
2) Get to know yourself and do what you can to express who you are, what you stand for, and what you believe in. Find your people. Figure out what your “true North” is and keep following it.
3) Work with your strengths, hone your craft and become an expert at something you love.
Thank you, Barenaked Ladies and Geddy Lee!
Now, as a proud Canadian, of course I am madly in love with the great Gord Downie who left us far, far, too soon last year. I frequently muse over the gifts he left us—the music, the poetry, the messages. Again, so many words that can be applied to life, to career, and to being human!
He said things like:
1) “I’m agile. I can play on the ass of an elephant. That’s the goal—then you can play anywhere.”
And sang things like:
2) “No dress rehearsal. This is our life.”
And wrote things like:
3) “I'm thinking back to when we were young if only to find out forensically what it was we used to want.”
How do I choose to interpret these words into meaningful (I hope) career advice? Here’s how:
1) What could be more valuable than to be agile in a world that is changing so rapidly? The jobs my children will have in their adulthood don’t even exist now and much of how and where we conduct work and business and our view of the world will continue to evolve quickly. With the advancement of technology and increase in borderless, virtual work, the divide between work and life is becoming narrower. It’s likely wise to prepare for more flexibility in our work but with less certainty and less job security in the traditional sense. Also, I believe there is value in “going with the flow” and taking some of the pressure off when it comes to matters of career and life happiness. Think about how many people you actually know who are working in a field directly related to what they studied in school. Is what we study the biggest predictor of where we will end up? How is anyone expected to know what job they will be happy doing for the rest of their life at the age of 18 or 38 or 48? Most of us need to test things out, learn about ourselves, fail, succeed, fall and get back up at least a few times before the pieces start fitting together. In all likelihood you will need to course correct along the way. This doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you or that you screwed up or ruined your life. It means you are a human who is growing and evolving and changing because that is what humans are supposed to do. This is what our world is requiring more of today than it ever has. If at all possible, try to remain open to whatever may come your way because if we only focus on what we think/hope is ahead, we can miss out on great things that might be right in front of us.
2) There is no time like the present to actually BE present in your life. If you have a dream, don’t just dismiss it. Figure out what’s important so you can nurture it and value it. If you are miserable at work, prepare for change. If you are happy at work, prepare for change. (see point #1).
3) What are the themes and lost dreams of your life? If you feel compelled to rediscover them it’s never too late!
Ready to make a move and want some support to make it easier and more successful? I can help!