If you are like most people, you are constantly researching, reading and watching to find ways to make your career and life better. You read blogs, listen to podcasts, watch videos to see how others have achieved success — more importantly — how you might achieve success, too.
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While it is certainly important to learn as much as you can, you should hold one, fundamental thought in the back of your mind. No matter how much success someone else has achieved, what worked for them might not work for you. Each of us is unique, with our own set of wants, needs and desires. Therefore our methods can and must be different, too. Sure we can take advice from others, adapt their behaviors, try on their methods and tactics, but there will times when we simply can’t use their information, simply because of our own unique differences.
When we are younger, it is deeply important that you experiment, listen to the advice of others and see if that advice can improve your life. If you are like me, though, over time you will find that certain types of seemingly universal advice don’t work for you. In my case, every call to focus exclusively on one specific item in my career and life falls on deaf ears. While it certainly might be great advice, for some personal reason, it simply doesn’t work for me. I think you will find the same thing in your career and life. No matter how many times or ways you hear a particular piece of advice, you will find yourself unable or unwilling to follow it. Let me be the first to tell you something that I have had to learn in my own career — it’s OK.
Over time you can gain quite a deep knowledge of your own wants, needs and desires and this is exactly why some advice, — no matter how seemingly useful or appropriate — doesn’t work for you. There is some piece of self-knowledge that says, “You can’t argue with success in what that person does, but I simply can’t do it myself.” Sometimes you may know a very clear reason why you can’t take the advice, but at other times it can simply be a general hunch, a feeling, an unpleasant nudge that you can’t engage in this behavior or another.
When faced with this issue, many people will simply re-double their efforts, try harder, force themselves to do whatever needs to be done. I think this is counterproductive, though. If you have made an effort to learn and listen to others, but still can’t find a way to make their advice work, perhaps you need to stop trying to make their methods your methods. It is better to learn that some methods don’t work for you, and find other methods that do, instead of trying to “force the square peg into the round hole.” Try the advice on for size, sure, but then carefully watch the results both externally and internally. If the results are negative for you, personally, you need to discard the advice and look elsewhere.
I believe that trying to force yourself to use other’s methods can damage your career and your life. Trying to force yourself to become something you are not, to act in ways you find uncomfortable, use methods you find annoying or even unethical lead to anxiety, fear and unhappiness. The advice you are forcing yourself to follow becomes a burden, not something that lifts you up. Don’t blindly accept the advice of others as the truth, nor beat yourself up for being unable or unwilling to follow it. Rather, accept that you are a unique individual and, no matter how successful, what works for others may not work for you. This doesn’t mean the advice isn’t valid or doesn’t work for some. It only means it doesn’t work for you, in this particular place and time in your life and career.
Never stop seeking advice and methods to improve your life and career, but adopt a new attitude. Embrace that advice that helps you grow and build your career and leave behind that advice that goes contrary to your own, intrinsic beliefs. This doesn’t make you are bad person — or a failure — but rather someone who has developed deep self-knowledge or your wants, needs and desires. Sometimes the best you can do with advice is ignore it, for your own personal benefit and the benefit of your career.