How often did you say to your mother, ‘It’s a different world now, Mum,’ meaning ’I don’t want to hear what you’ve got to say because my generation doesn’t live in the Dark Ages.’
Probably these conversations took place in your teenage years, but strangely, they do have a lot of relevance in today’s competitive world of employment.
Mothers are programmed to dispense advice, whether you want to hear it or not, especially that which is intended to guide you towards a successful and profitable career, I should know.
However, for once you were right – it’s a different world now.
The advice that was right for your mother may no longer apply because it was relevant for a different era.
1. How often did she say ‘You need a decent education’?
Once upon a time this meant getting the best possible tertiary qualification. But now?
Graduating with expensive degrees that lead to unavailable jobs? Can young people afford to be perpetual students?
Often trade training or a good diploma means a quick leap into the job market without a lifetime of debt.
2. ‘Hard work is its own reward.’
Hmmm. Does the average employee gain a lot of pleasure out of endless hard work?
What if the credit was taken by your manager?
What if you were given more of the same, because you proved to be such a whiz at the last lot? More often than not, you’ll gain no measurable advantage.
Ask George Carlin said, ‘The caterpillar does all the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity.’
Better to employ your talent at taking the initiative and solving challenges.
These will help you to achieve goals for the company, not for a self-serving manager.
3. ‘Be a team player.’
This is very laudable, as long as the team is one you trust and respect.
There are times when you need to raise your head above the parapet in order to show that you’re capable of working above and beyond the demands of your team role.
And don’t forget, the leader of the team has more opportunity to display resourcefulness and leadership skills.
4. ‘It looks bad if you’re constantly changing jobs.’
Maybe thirty years ago this would have been a golden rule.
But now, how many people can you name who haven’t changed their job in the last four or five years?
Seeking new opportunities and using new skills learned through training and experience can be a tremendous boost to a new job and a higher pay scale.
Sometimes standing still means you become part of the woodwork – unnoticed, seldom upgraded and susceptible to wood worm.
5. ‘You’ll always have a good job if you study accountancy.’
Sometimes your high school abilities have absolutely no relevance to real life.
What about the interests you followed after school and in the weekends?
Do they have any wealth creation potential?
Can they offer you a satisfying work-life balance?
Become an autodidact and complement any of your formal training with real-world street smartness.
6. ‘Don’t rock the boat. No-one likes a trouble-maker.’
True, it’s hard to progress if you’re a trouble-maker, especially a rebel without a cause.
But sometimes it pays to be the one who points out the obvious when everyone else is scuttling for cover.
You may be the person who reaps the reward of telling it like it is, because you’ve saved the company time, aggravation and a lot of money.
Disruptive is the new norm in our economy – some of the greatest leaders and entrepreneurs that have made a difference in society were once “troublemakers”… they became rebels with causes.
7. ‘A big company means a job for life.’
Not anymore. Big companies lack the lean, mean attitude of many small and emerging companies.
They can become bloated victims of their own early success until they wake up to the fact that demand is changing and they haven’t kept up with it.
Smaller companies find it easier to change tack when needed.
Entrepreneurship allows flexibility that large corporations may frown on, until it’s too late.
Think how many small technology companies have taken on and won against the established players.
8. ‘Know your place.’
This sounds like something from the nineteenth century that involves tugging forelocks and bowing to one’s superiors.
Yes, it’s imperative that you fully understand what your role and responsibilities are.
But that doesn’t mean you have to stay shackled to the job you were originally appointed to.
Find out what it takes to get you the next rung – or three – of the company ladder and make yourself a prospect.
Ask for more training, mentoring or coaching.
Even better invest your own money and do it, much better for your self esteem long term.
Demonstrate your key strengths, blow your own horn once in a while.
All of this gives you the competitive advantage when it comes to promotion… and much more.
9. ‘Listen to good advice’.
The first thing that springs to mind is: how do I know that it’s good advice?
Millions of people have followed the advice of gurus and then lost their life savings, reputations and careers. In today’s business environment, things change rapidly.
What was good practice five years ago may be completely taboo now.
The Internet has made experts of everyone and it’s mind-boggling trying to weed out the charlatans (and there are many).
Listen to those who you admire and always be responsible for your life’s outcomes.
10. ‘If you sleep with dogs you will catch fleas’.
Yes, mum was right and nothing has changed in regards to this.
Discard all relationships in your life that add no value to you.
Life is much too short to waste it with people that don’t appreciate the greatness of your relationship. Find a mentor.
11. ‘Always wear a suit and tie.’
Always? In today’s business environment it depends and often only times you’ll do that is at the job interview or an influential business meeting. Funerals and weddings included.
As a starting point, your company culture is the expert here. Look at your managers and leaders and follow their example.
TIP – Always dress for the job and position you want and not the one you have.
Aim to be the most presentable, not the sloppiest. Even in IT, notorious for relaxed clothing, it doesn’t mean sporting the unwashed jeans you wore for painting the fence last weekend.
Feel good about yourself. You’ll look good, just right for the job – and ready for the next career move.
Never underestimate the power of first impressions – your visual presentation is an integral part of your overall personal brand.
12. I know there wasn’t meant to be a number 12 but here it is…
“Always love your mum… she wants the best for you and I certainly can vouch for that!
What other myths can you add to our list?