I'm not so big on advice-giving. But advice-taking -- that's another story. I am always more than happy to listen to someone else's take on a situation or get their input when I feel I need it most -- sometimes almost to a fault. You know when one person can convince you of one thing and someone else another? I'm that person who listens to everyone.
So over the years, I've gotten more than my fair share of advice from others. Sometimes it's been helpful, and sometimes, not so much. It seems, though, that the good advice (and I mean really good!) keeps coming back and working time and time again. So I am breaking my non-advice-giving mantra and offering some up right here -- although technically, it's not my advice. I'm just the messenger.
On Work: "Always be in a little bit over your head" -My former boss
No one wants to be completely overwhelmed at work, but then again no one wants to be bored and not challenged. Here's where this advice comes in handy. Push yourself in whatever you do to be in just a little bit over your head -- whether that means taking on a new role, interviewing for a new job or taking on more work in your current job. A former boss of mine told me this when I was considering taking a new position at a magazine company where I knew I would be in over my head. As she reminded me, it was just enough over my head that I could handle it. And I learned so much and I loved the new position. I go back to these words over and over when considering taking on any new project.
On Being Social: "One tuches can't dance at two weddings" - My friend's mom
FOMO, or fear of missing out, seems to be on so many people's minds these days, what with the perpetual busyness in day-to-day life and on social media reminding us what we are missing out on at any given moment. Many years ago, the mom of my good friend from college told her daughter and me very simply that "one tuches can't dance at two weddings" when we were trying to figure out where to go one night. She was right. We just had to pick a place, go there and then really be there without thinking about what we might be missing out on somewhere else. That's really freeing! Be where you are, and don't think about where you are not. That's where the party is (and your one tuches, too!).
On Marriage: "Be each other's biggest cheerleaders" -My aunt
It's so easy to correct your spouse or nag him or tell him that your way of doing things is better. It's also easy to let days, weeks, even months go by without paying a compliment to your spouse or just telling him that he is doing a good job. One day, years ago, I was telling my aunt what a great guy my husband is and how proud of him I was. She asked me, "Did you tell him that? Remember to always be each other's biggest cheerleaders." That advice stuck with me. So I do tell my husband that I am proud of him, that he is doing a good job, and I root for him -- always. And do you know what happens then? He roots for me, too. The cheerleading goes both ways, and so we know we are always on the same team, cheering each other on.
On Parenting: "Kids need to fit into your lives, too" -My friend's wife
Every parent knows (or at least suspects) that your life will change in ways you never, ever imagined when you first have a child. It will -- for sure. My friend's wife (the first real contemporary of mine who had a baby) told me this after I became pregnant with my first child. I was admiring how seamlessly her baby seemed to fit into her life as we had lunch together with the baby asleep in her car seat/stroller. It was then that she told me how I had to remember to fit my future new child into my life, and not just completely mold my life around the child's. I remind myself of this advice at every stage of my children's lives. Of course, our daily lives and weekend plans are different because we have kids, but having our kids fit into our lives and the things we enjoy when appropriate makes life run a lot more smoothly -- and also makes it a lot more fun.
On Dealing With Difficult People: "Smile at everyone" -My mom
This is great, timeless advice, and really so easy to do. My mother smiled at everyone (sometimes she winked -- but not in an I'm hitting on you way or anything!). If someone is giving you a hard time (whether you know this person or not), just smile at them. Your response to them, no matter what you say, will automatically sound kinder if you have a smile on your face. It's difficult for the difficult person to continue being mean when faced with a person who has a giant smile on her face. Laugh lines be damned -- the smiling thing works.