Passing Along Some Honest-To-Goodness Career Advice

I recently had the opportunity to speak to some of my female colleagues about the best career advice I've ever received. Lucky for me, I had a lot to talk about. Every one of my mentors has been an exceptional role model and supportive leader. They've given me their time, flexibility and a lot of great advice. Now, I want to share some of their best wisdom with you. I hope it will inspire you as much as it's inspired me:

1. Don't lose your technical edge. The best way to stay sharp is to learn something new every day.

In my opinion, the worst crisis that can happen in your career is falling into a rut because you can't do anything else. You want to be at a job that you've chosen to be in, not at a job that you're trapped in. Challenge yourself daily and you'll increase your knowledge base.

2. Always have a Plan B. Having a backup plan gives you the confidence to try new things and take risks. Whether it's an alternative solution to a problem or a career move, having options allows you to be bold.

3. Respect your peers. I attended a negotiating course where I learned that humiliation is the root of all destructive behavior. When you're trying to obtain agreement from your team members, respect their viewpoints and don't corner them. If you embarrass them, you'll never gain their cooperation.

4. Let it go. If something bad happens, keep a positive attitude and keep moving forward. Hanging on will not change the outcome; it will only affect your productivity.

5. Know your priorities. Someone once told me, "You can have it all, you can't just have it all at the same time." This may sound harsh, but I believe it rings true. It's important to prioritize so you can do the things that matter most first. You'll only wear yourself down and eventually burn out if you try to do it all at once.

6. Don't settle. I think Steve Jobs put it best when he said, "The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking." Don't allow yourself to be satisfied with "putting in your time." Instead, find something you're passionate about. If you settle, you'll become bored, and if you become bored, you'll become unhappy and you won't do good work in that mindset. This is the most valuable piece of advice I've ever received.

I've relied on mentors' guidance throughout my 31-year career at AT&T. These bits of wisdom have kept me happy and satisfied with my work, and I hope they do the same for you.