A very smart woman I worked with once told me that if I eliminated the word “but” from my professional vocabulary, I’d find greater acceptance for my ideas, and greater cooperation from my team members. She said people would have a very different perception of me if I could change this one thing.
The reason, she said, is because the word “but” negates everything that precedes it, and you cast a negative spin on anything you say when you use it.
Consider, for example, “We can do it this way, but it’ll be way too expensive given our budget,” versus “We can do it this way, and if we do, we’ll need to cut back on other important features.” The first indicates that we can’t even consider the option. The second acknowledges possibility and describes consequences.
“But” is exclusive and isolating, “and” is inclusive and welcoming.
She was absolutely right, and it’s advice I have used with great success for the past 30 years of my life.
When I started working, I lived for a short while with the parents of a close friend. The dad was a much-decorated Army general and a very chilled out person. We all talked a lot every day. I grew very close to them. Nearly every day I came back from work and complained about inefficiencies or partial truths or unfairnesses I had encountered at work that day.
One day he said to me: “Here is a suggestion. Keep a small diary. Draw a vertical line in the centre of each page. On the left, write in detail everything you find wrong, unfair, indefensible, immoral, wrong, untruthful, or otherwise wrong. Then as you grow in your career, review this left column frequently, to see how many of those behaviours you are yourself now indulging in. If very few or none, you will be on your way to defining success your way. Else the environment is shaping you. In which case, stop and ponder.”
3. Joe Yasman
It was a professor in my university, but I believe its origin is somebody famous:
If you don’t ask, the answer is always “No.”
Don’t complain. I think it was phrased as something like, “Do you ever listen to someone complaining and think, ‘This is a great conversation!’ ?” Being negative doesn’t help others and it doesn’t help you.
For years, I had to catch myself when I started whining about something unimportant. Now not doing so is a habit.
5. Vamsi Uppala
Attitude counts far far more than talent.
I have been time and again repeatedly told that a strong positive attitude takes a man farther than his talent. There are many greats in sports, entertainment, politics, science and art, who had great talent but lost on huge counts only because of a faulty and shaky attitude.
Attitude helps you solve problems talent cannot. Attitude helps you navigate through problem talent hides.
Being very talented and gifted is like having huge stock of inventory lying around. High inventory covers problems on multiple levels (with a very high cost of maintenance). Being talented is similar.
You could achieve greater heights having a never-say-die attitude than being tremendously talented. I better be strong and positive than gifted.
6. Dennis Do
If you’re going to do something, do it well enough to avoid doing it the second time.
This makes me put in the best effort in everything that I do. Going back to do something the second time is a time waster if you knew it can be done right the first time. Even writing this post, I’m putting in my best effort into editing it, explaining it, and making it easy and enjoyable to read—to avoid going back and fixing any grammatical errors.
To explain why I have that meme on top of this post, think of your top 5 people who matters in your life.
Now let me ask you, was Justin Bieber one of them? How about the President of the United States?
More than likely not.
The people who you remember are the quality ones that you should spend more time around. Remember that it’s not always about being popular. It’s not always about having more quantity.
7. Karen Meyer
A mentor I had some years ago told me that time is the one thing that you can never get back, if you look at it as an asset you can donate it, spend it or waste it. Whatever you do with it, it is gone once it passes. This has made me very conscientious of how I spend my time. It has also helped me understand that donating time to mentor, serve the community, or volunteer for board service is just as important as donating money, maybe more so.
Success is dangerous when you hang around losers.
9. Matt Hewitt
Never cook bacon naked” and “Pants BEFORE shoes” are two of my favorites.
“Stay focus on your effort, let everything else remain a natural result.”
My mentor said this to me, with reference to name, fame and money
A professor during my senior year in college advised to not go into a graduate program just because it was the logical thing to do next. He mention that in order to succeed, I needed to have a higher degree of intellectual curiosity that would eventually lead me to dedicate large amounts of time towards my academic goals.
Now that I recently started my MS program, I realize that classes are more enjoyable and that I am much more focused on my long term goals.
12. Guy Durrant
In the late 1970s I interviewed for a job as an apartment manager. The property manager who interviewed me said that I would need to be friendly, but not friends, with my tenants. (This was to put myself through graduate school). It proved to be good advice at that time, and still is. I’ve been in education for 25 years, and I would offer the same advice to prospective teachers: be friendly with your students, but you are not their friend.
My father once told me when I was angry about some injustice to be careful not to burn bridges. As I grew older and realized that a large part of life and career is determined by who you know, I began to fully understand the value of that advice.
14. Debbie Rich
Three statements come to mind.
“When you least want to leave your place, that’s exactly when you should go outside.”
Best advice from my mom. If you’re feeling like you want to hide from the world, allow yourself that briefly. But then do yourself a favor, put on some lipstick and a cute pair of jeans (ok… that part is optional), and force yourself to go outside.
“If you can’t figure out the solution, take a walk.”
Said by a design teacher in one of my MFA classes. If you are feeling stuck about a painting, a piece of writing, any kind of creative or mental exercise… Don’t sit in front of your computer. Get outside, breathe some air, clear your head. Doing that or a yoga class generally leads me to a mini-breakthrough.
“Give up all hope of a better past.”
Variation of either a Buddhist saying OR a wisdom from Lily Thomlin — tough to sort its origin. My Feldenkrais therapist used to repeat this during our sessions, and I’ve tried to follow that mantra when I feel down. It’s difficult.