Is there a book big enough to contain all of the advice you wish you were given when you left your parents’ home to start life on your own? Haven’t we all, at some time or other in our thirties or even forties, said to ourselves, “I wish I’d known this sooner”?
Whether you are dropping your kids off at college, or they are going straight into the workforce to make their way, advice is something that really can’t do any harm, right? Yes, it might be a little annoying, but what’s the harm in that? If a young adult wants to act on the advice, they can; if they want to file it away for later, they can do that, too. Even if they pretend they never heard it, some day, they’ll remember that somewhere along the line, a trusted adult once told them that very same thing.
Here are just a few pieces of personal and work-related advice I offered each of my four kids as they entered the “real world,” and a few I snuck in a little earlier than that. But first, my number one piece of advice for my offspring (and anyone else who needs to hear it)…
The mother lode of advice for my kids has to do with self-awareness, and it’s very straightforward: Get some. The sooner you learn to get outside of your own “self” and be a witness to how you think, feel, and behave, the sooner you will learn how to get along in the world with a minimum amount of conflict. During their teenage years, when one of my four kids came home to report on a squabble with a peer, and they were sure it was “One-thousand percent” the other person’s fault, I responded with this: “But what part, however small, did you contribute?”
Sometimes, that part they could legitimately own was, truly, a micro-sliver; other times, upon reflection, it was a bit more of a hefty wedge. And for those times when they really were not to blame, because unprovoked hostility really is a thing, the lesson is still self-reflection in order to figure out what they learned from the situation that might be useful in thefuture.
So my first piece of advice is to make sure your kids know that they must be willing to look in the mirror, especially after a struggle, and claim some responsibility for what they could do better, or at least differently, next time. We always have something to learn about ourselves that we didn’t know yesterday.
1. What you think you deserve and what you get are not always aligned.
If you aren’t getting what you are sure you deserve, move on. Upon reflection; if you are still sure that you deserve more money or better conditions, it might be time to find an employer who will recognize that.
2. Head down, mouth closed.
Whether you’re an executive or a bartender, if something doesn’t concern you, or the business’ goals, zip it.
3. Leave your troubles at the door.
In other words, business is business. Try to always arrive to work with your head in the game.
1. You don’t have to show up to every argument you’re invited to.
This was a constant mantra of mine as a parent, when sibling rivalry was at its peak. Knowing how to pick and choose the conflicts you plug into can be the difference between happiness and misery.
2. Learn how you like your eggs.
Borrowed from a popular movie in the 90s called Runaway Bride, this advice spoke to me because I was the kind of 20-something who tended to become whomever a significant other needed me to be, which is not ideal. My kids call it “the egg advice.” It simply means, get to know who you are. If someone isn’t OK with how you like your eggs, move on.
3. Thoughts, feelings, actions, in that order.
If one is out of whack, look back at what inspired it. Our thoughts create our feelings; our feelings often fuel our actions. This is where that self-awareness comes in that is so important, across all planes of life, business or pleasure.
Regardless of how old your kids might be, whether they’ve got their bags packed or are still using training wheels, start writing down your advice for them. Someday, they’ll decide what to do with it but at least you’ve put it out there.