Advice I’d Give My Younger Self
It’s my birthday today (yes, I was named after the month I was born in!) and I have a lot to look forward to. There’s competing in The CrossFit Murph Challenge on Memorial Day, my trip to Peru with my eldest daughter this fall, and my team and I have some cool plans for the business (stay tuned!).
While I tend to focus on the future, my team challenged me to reflect on my past, just for today, by asking me: what advice would I give my younger self?
Advice to My Younger Self
If I could go back in time to advise “young May” when I was starting out in my career, I would tell my younger self these four things. See if they help you too.
Focus on Your Super Strengths
“Young May, get in touch with your super strengths and focus on using them. Just because you like challenge doesn’t mean you have to make things hard. And don’t equate effort with achievement.”
Your super strengths are the things you do well and love doing. They’re the things you do that come naturally to you. And when you’re using those strengths, you feel like you’re “in the zone” or “in flow”.
Things feel “simple, easy and fun” when you’re using your super strengths – they’re effortless and easeful.
My super strengths have revolved around communicating with and influencing people. One boss put it this way: “May, you can say just about anything to anyone and get away with it”. And I’ve described it as being able to “bring together disparate groups to collaborate toward a common goal.”
What are your super strengths and how are you using them?
Value People Over Tasks
As an achiever, I like getting things done. In fact, I like accomplishing tasks so much that I used to resent family members, friends and even my own team for interrupting me when I was in the thick of a project. The project could be as inconsequential as finishing an email or writing an equation in a spreadsheet.
As you can imagine, this didn’t make me a model daughter, mother, wife or boss.
I also used to think networking was a waste of time, or at least not as important as getting my work done. But the reality is our network of relationships are a key part of our success. It’s people who put us in touch with new opportunities, innovative ideas and enriching experiences, and not tasks.
I ended up depending too much on my narrow network and missed opportunities to build my external reputation, raise my profile and broaden my career options.
Since starting to value people over tasks, all my relationships have improved and my network is so much richer.
Where do you stand on the “people vs task” spectrum?
Don’t Worry About Finding Your Passion
I never knew what my passion was, or at least not how it related to my job or career. That’s why I’ve never liked the typical career advice of “follow your passion”. When you don’t know what yours is, that kind of well-meaning statement can cause a lot of stress!
I would have been much better off relaxing about it as I experimented with many different roles and activities.
Instead of going around in circles trying to find my passion, what ended up working for me was to put myself out there and allow my passion to find me. Because finding your passion is a discovery process and not about thinking yourself into knowing.
The more you experiment, the closer you’ll get to where you’re meant to be.
What I’m doing now is exactly what I was meant to do all along. And the path I took has been excellent preparation for what I’m doing now.
Have you already found your passion? Or are you still on your way to discovering it?
Don’t Give Away Your Power
As a “nice Chinese girl”, I deferred to authority figures and just about anyone else who had an opinion. I assumed everyone else had more knowledge and expertise than me. I valued harmony so much that I kept quiet even when I disagreed. Those with louder voices intimidated me.
On top of that, I used apology language and said “sorry!” even when others bumped into me! (Just last week someone called me out on saying “sorry” unnecessarily, so I’m still working on it.)
As a result, I gave away my personal power and made myself small and inconsequential without even realizing it.
Whether it’s a lack of confidence, not wanting to offend, or something else, you close yourself off to opportunity when you give away your power. And that means it’s harder to make a difference for the people and causes you care about.
The good news is you can reclaim your personal power at any time. For me, it began with a shift in my mindset. If you need to reclaim your personal power too, now would be a good time to start making the shift.
Have you given away your personal power? If so, what step could you take to get it back?
What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?
Whatever stage you are in your life, you’ve learned a great deal simply by living every day. And if you’ve made mistakes, you’ve learned even more of those valuable lessons!
So pause and reflect on the most important lessons you’ve learned. Especially ones that remain useful to remember, embrace and act on right now.
Maybe they’re about relationships. Perhaps they’re about your career. Or they might be simply about how you want to show up in the world.
Whatever those life lessons are, they have value. And they might just help someone else too if you’re willing to share them.
So how about you?
What advice would you give your younger self?
Leave a comment – I’d love to know.