What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
I’ve been given lots of good advice over the years, so it’s nearly impossible to pick out one piece out of all of them. But this morning as I thought about how best to answer this question, one particular tidbit seemed to stick out over the rest.
I worked for an IBM company as a software instructor at which we were evaluated every day by our students. It was a big deal, and we were rewarded for doing well. Most of the time I earned the ratings people gave me, but each week I could count on one or two low scores that mystified me. I had answered all of the person’s questions, he/she laughed at my nerd jokes, my encouragement and compliments sounded totally not made up… but I’d still average a 4 or 5 out of 7. Sometimes even lower.
Bad scores had the potential of ruining my whole day, and I took them way too personally. When I was headed toward burnout after just a month of full-time teaching, my manager pulled me aside to tell me this:
You can try your hardest, but you will not reach everyone. Some students see you when they enter the classroom and think, “Ugh, she looks just like my ex.” You will never win that person over. Other people might not like what you’re wearing or your sense of humor or how you walk around the classroom. Just do your best.
She was so right. (That’s actually really difficult for me to say, because the woman was otherwise pure evil—seriously, she was scary-crazy, and my friend Jay will most certainly back me up on this, and possibly Sheila too, but not Ed. Ed loved her. Ed is weird.) With this advice, I was given an excuse not to have to be perfect. I’m not saying it changed my life—I still aim for perfection and am disappointed at my failures ALL.THE.TIME.—but it was what I needed to hear at that time to keep me working at a job I truly loved. I am grateful for that, and glad I listened.
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One other piece of advice that was especially good came from Dr. O back in 2009; it went something like this:
You’ll have chemotherapy every three weeks for 6-8 sessions, blood tests along the way, a CT to check progress after two sessions, a PET scan after the treatments are complete, continue on a different chemo regimen for ten more treatments, then more PET/CT scans.
She was kinda Terminator-y: Come with me if you want to live. I did what she said, and I’m alive today because of it. So that might be the best advice I ever received.
If you’re a blogger and want to do our blog challenge with us, let me know and I’ll send you our list! Otherwise, tune in here (and on Sherilee’s happy little blog) every day in September.