A couple days ago, I shared 3 of the 5 tips I’d given to recent graduates and mused about how they also applied to adults in the workplace. Today, we’re covering Tips 4 and 5 below.

Focus on people, not things. All people, not just cool people or people who can do things for you. Handwritten notes and eye contact and truly listening—without looking at your phone—are memorable. Make this a part of your everyday existence. It’s free, it takes almost no energy and it can catch on and make a difference.

The last of my “pearls of wisdom” is a bit ironic:

There are a LOT of pearls of so called wisdom out there, and some of them are just flat out wrong. You’ve seen them… the well-intended cliché memes are all over Facebook and even sometimes in “opinion blogs” from so-called professionals. Here are the ones I mean:

True Happiness Quote“Do what makes you happy.” Let me clarify—usually when you see “do what makes you happy,” it means live for yourself. Look out for yourself because no one else will. Do what feels good. What I want to clarify about this one is that it’s a lie because it’s about short term happiness. True happiness is long term happiness, and long term happiness comes from doing the right thing…from helping others and being responsible. Things that make you happy in the moment cannot make you happy in the long run if they aren’t what is good for others or society. Do what makes you happy in the long run.

“Trust your gut.” Your gut is good for digestion, not for making decisions. You don’t want to trust your big life decisions only to yourself and your gut. Find and appoint your personal board of directors… these are the five or so people you admire, trust, respect. They are people who aren’t afraid to tell the truth, even if it hurts your feelings. So it’s probably not your mama or your best friend. Meet with them regularly. Seek their advice and be willing to hear it, even when it flies in the face of your gut, because your gut is run by emotion and it needs some checks and balances.

“Ignore negativity.” This trite little meme probably is trying to say that we shouldn’t over-count the importance of negative messages in our lives, and I will give the meme writers that. But ignore negativity? No, that’s just dumb. Ignoring bad situations or bad influences doesn’t make them go away. Problem solving is not done with our heads in the sand. Notice, not ignore, what you find negative and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. What disquiets your soul? What fills you with righteous discontent? As I ask this question I am confident important social issues are coming to your mind. Human trafficking. Bullying. Violence. Clean Water. Whatever you find negative, don’t ignore it—tackle it head on. You will not make a difference by ignoring the issues that you find negative.

So that’s it. I said there would be 5 pearls of wisdom and that was the fifth. To recap:

  1. Rarely is there a one best way to do something.
  2. Sometimes there IS a one best way—that’s when it’s a moral decision that affects others.
  3. Be open to experience.
  4. Focus on people, not things.
  5. Use critical thinking rather than blindly accepting trite advice.

If these tips have gotten you thinking about your career or your workplace and how these may not be happening, give us a call for help.

Magnet Consulting is a strategic people consulting firm and a certified Women-Owned Business. We work with client organizations across industries and size to assist in Organizational Culture, Employee Assessment and Selection, and Team and Leader Development.