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The Worst Career Advice and 3 Better Ideas

career advice

What’s the worst piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

For me, it has to be: “Keep doing what you’re doing.”

It may work in the very short-term, but keep doing what you’re doing can be a dangerous way to proceed in your career.  Here’s why:

  • Things change
    The world is changing so fast that if you’re still doing the same things in the same way, then by definition you’re falling behind.
  • The bar keeps getting higher
    People expect more from you as you gain experience and progress.  Plus, others are raising their game whether or not you choose to.
  • It’s boring!
    If we keep doing what we’re doing, it gets old pretty quickly.

Some people like routine, but if you want to reach your full potential, you have to “shake it up” and keep learning and growing. So how do you do that? What works for me and many of my clients is not about asking other people’s advice, but asking yourself some questions that can lead to the best advice for your situation.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself to Advance Your Career

1. Am I still heading where I want to go?

We all get so busy rushing around that it’s important to set aside time at least once a year to make sure you’re still on course for success as you define it, and to make some changes if you need to. If you don’t know where you want to head, there’s no time like the present to start figuring that out.

2. What investments do I need to make to get there?

The main reason keep doing what you are doing doesn’t work is that in today’s workplace, you have to keep investing in yourself so that you continue to learn, grow, and expand your capabilities.

That’s especially important as you rise to more senior positions.The worst time to get stale is when you are in a senior role, because that’s when you’re expensive and harder to move around the organization.

So take a moment to look ahead and figure out what you’ll need to do differently as you advance. Some options:

  • Building new relationships with external constituencies who will be important as you rise in the organization.
  • Getting more operating experience or direct P&L experience.
  • Developing a new skill, such as coaching, which can help you create a coaching culture at work plus make you an even better manager, leader and, yes, a better human being.
  • Learning something new. I know two people, for example, the dean of a business school and the CEO of a growth company who are learning Mandarin Chinese to be more effective in their business. Whatever you choose to take on, block some time and invest the money to get started. Maybe even set aside an investment budget for yourself and insist on spending it before the year is over – that way you’ll be more inclined to take action, which is what it’s all about!

3. Whose help do I need along the way, and how I can also help them?

It’s great to look ahead and see what kind of circles you’re going to be operating in, and also the kinds of people you will need to be interacting with.

Maybe it’s developing a relationship with someone who you think could be a key mentor.  Or someone in the sector you’d like to move into.  Remember, it’s a two-way street.  And the key is to build those relationships before you need to call on them. Be willing to give first and make sure you put a lot into the relationship “bank,” not just make withdrawals.

I’d love to know how you put these strategic questions into action.  And let us know what questions help you advance.

About the Author

May Busch is a sought-after executive coach, speaker, advisor, author, and former COO of Morgan Stanley Europe. Her passion is helping people succeed in their career and life – to be better, do more, and make the difference they are meant to make. Find her on MayBusch.com and follow her on Twitter at @maybusch