In the mid-1980s when I was at primary school, my class was asked to work out how old we’d be in the year 2000.
A full quarter century. Wow.
And I remember thinking that, by then, I’d be a fully-fledged adult: sorted with a career and family, maybe I’d even be married to Morten Harket.
Yet in my 20s, despite hunting high and low, I still hadn’t met Morten.
All was not lost though: I was making great strides at work, and I was even lucky enough to be on the property ladder.
I’d also realised that being a grown-up is a process that’s never complete: change is the norm.
With that in mind, and to mark the dubious pleasure of turning 40 this week, I considered what advice I’d give my younger self, aside from buying shares in Apple after Steve Jobs’ departure in 1985.
- Be a sponge – From every good experience, from every bad one, learn something; engage with people; read, watch and listen to the news; make up your own mind
- Don’t worry so much about what others think – Simply put, those who matter don’t mind; those who mind don’t matter. Generally, you’ll do better and gain more respect (although not necessarily friends) by expressing a rational, reasoned argument
- Try not to pass up great opportunities – But don’t dwell on the what ifs if you do
- Surround yourself with positive people, capable of dishing out honest advice – Be a trusted friend or colleague; don’t let others bring you down
- Your only real competition is you – Only by consistently doing your job better, including learning from mistakes, will you stand apart from those you’re competing against
- The minute you lose your patience, you’ve lost the argument – Fair to say I’m still working on this one
- Don’t be so afraid of change – Setting up my own business was a risk. No question. Yet it remains the best career move I’ve made. Calculated risks can pay dividends, and not just financially
- Qualifications are good, but it’s what you do with them that counts – Don’t assume your degree or qualification entitles you to a senior management role. Build on it with hard work and a good attitude, and you’ll see results
- If you don’t know an answer, ask – Far from making you look daft, it’ll show you’re someone who’s willing to learn and not afraid to admit they’re unsure
And finally, learn to move on.
Whether it’s putting an issue or disagreement to bed; changing jobs when the Sunday fear gets too much; or even opting to move to a different city, there’s something rather liberating in personifying the immortal words of West Wing’s President Josiah Bartlet.
Over to you, what advice would you give?