Monday, October 1, 2012

Where Good Advice Should Come From

Wednesday morning I was in the gym on a rowing machine, going through my repetitions, when I was approached by a woman. She approached me because, she said, she noticed some errors in my form; specifically, I was putting all of the work in my arms and flailing my elbows out from the sides of my body. She recommended that I keep my elbows in, and work harder to pinch my shoulder blades back to really focus on my back. I thanked her and told her I appreciated her advice. She smiled and went on her way.

The woman who spoke with me didn't look like Jillian Michaels, Denise Austin, or any other female health guru that you might have heard of. She was actually older (about a grandmother's age), short, and-to be completely honest-slightly plump. You wouldn't expect her to know much about exercising, let alone how to properly row. But she did, and after I made the adjustments that she suggested, my back muscles were burning in a way that I didn't expect.

We have the notion that good advice-espeically career advice-has to come from a source that meets some kind of visual, experiential, or aesthetic standard. Those who look thin and healthy are the best at giving health advice. Those with PhDs are experts in their academic fields and the best at dispensing advice in those areas. A government agency-like the Food and Drug Administration-is the highest authority on what do eat. 

But, oftentimes, we can dismiss good advice because it comes from a source that judge to be unworthy: an annoying coworker, a younger person, a neighbor, or someone outside our career field. The "package" that the advice comes in supersedes what is said…and we miss lessons that could propel us ahead much further than we had anticipated.

This week, challenge yourself to open up to new sources of advice or guidance. We are being sent messages all the time, important messages that can significantly shape our careers. What messages did you receive? Please share them in the comments below. 

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