The worst career advice I've ever received
We've all received advice that, although it may have been given with good intentions, wasn't exactly the best counsel. Whether it's your hairdresser pushing you to cut bangs when you know you won't style them (been there), or you were persuaded with the classic "you only live once" and went on that night out even though you had to take a flight the next day (also been there...), not all advice is right for you! Although some advice followed can lead to minor consequences, like hungover international travel, some can be more detrimental - so when it comes to your career, take caution.
Now before I get into some examples of advice I've received and some shared by friends and family, I want to preface that seeking counsel is a great idea! Whether it's your manager, mentor, teacher, or friend, asking for guidance is healthy and can help immensely in your decision-making. But remember, it's not gospel - and if it doesn't feel quite right, then it probably isn't.
"Doing overtime shows you care..."
Let's kick off with some advice I got from a former colleague:
"If you're getting in early and leaving late, they can see your commitment; trust me, I hear the whispers about "you know who," they're always leaving right on the dot."
Now, this is what I'll call unsolicited subliminal advice! 😂 I didn't ask for it, but the message was received loud and clear! I'd followed the notion of my team and was getting into the office roughly 30 minutes early (no biggies, right!) and leaving around 7pm most nights. And when we started to work from home, I'd sometimes be up to 11pm! I was in my early 20s at the time, far below anyone else's pay grade, yet I was pulling insane hours. Why? Because pulling overtime made me feel valued, it was the cultural norm, and I too began to hear the murmurs about those who, in my opinion, had the discipline and the confidence to create and enforce work-life balance.
At work, your value comes from actively being a part of the positive culture you wish to create and the quality of the work you produce, not the unpaid time you give away! Of course, there will be times when you need to drive a project over the line, and weekends and evenings are required - but this should be far and few between, not your day-to-day! So to normalising overtime, we say, advice declined!
"If you hate your manager, just quit!"
During dinner with a gf, she told me how she and her manager couldn't seem to get on the same page. She'd never had this issue before; all her previous managers showed trust in her abilities and regularly provided recognition for her excellent work. So when she found herself under a micromanager, she felt deflated and was walking on eggshells.
Our convo went something like this:
Friend: I think I'm gonna quit...
Me: Why? It's been two months. Have you tried talking to her about it?
Friend: We're never going to see eye-to-eye, and if I try to bring it up, she'll feel attacked, and it'll go nowhere.
Me: Omg, if you haven't even attempted to sit down and discuss it, then don't jump straight to quitting!
Friend: Well, Marcus was telling me how she sounds exactly like his last manager, and it never got better, and it was the year from hell for him!
There it was. Marcus, her boyfriend, with only her best intentions in mind, was projecting his experience onto her and his advice was to quit and not spend a year with a manager she hated like he did. After we chatted for a while, she admitted she didn't hate her manager, they were just different, and she planned to chat with her. Now I'd be lying if I said it was a fairytale ending, but she did have a conversation with her manager, things got slightly better, and after three months, her manager moved to another department, so I guess she got a 'get out of jail free card'. But, had she quit, she wouldn't be in a role she really loves now, under a new manager who has challenged and developed her for the past two years.
"You're going to go and study at your age? Why would you want to do that - is this a good idea?!"
My mum is incredible. At 49 years old, after spending 27 years as a Receptionist & Dental Assistance (while raising two kids), she enrolled in university, spent three years living away from my dad, and gained her Bachelor's in Health Science: Oral Health Therapy. I admire her so much for this. She pushed past the imposter syndrome, societal norms, geographical barriers, and, most importantly past the negativity some of her friends had to say about her choice to pursue higher education.
The common remarks were:
"Why would you want to do that at your age, god, I couldn't think of anything worse!"
"What, you're going to live apart from your husband for three years! That can't be good..."
"Really! Oh well, good for you; I couldn't do that, but each to their own."
My mum, who didn't finish high school, graduated with top marks, got to live with her bestie for three years, made new friends, and has now moved to Melbourne with my dad and is embarking on an exciting new career. Her salary has doubled, she feels purpose in what she does every day, she feels challenged, and she feels badass! She listened to her supporters and what she truly wanted, and the satisfaction she finds in her career now is a true reflection of dismissing the negative advice and embracing the unknown!
The next time you get advice about your career, whether you asked for it or not, take it with a grain of salt! People often have your best intentions at heart, but they can be clouded by their own biases and lived experiences. So trust your gut; sometimes, the first answer isn't always the right one!