Career Wisdom from Our Elders: Part 3

Old Books WisdomNo man was ever wise by chance.” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman Philosopher and Politician

Wisdom doesn’t just fall into your lap. You need to be open to receiving it and applying it because wisdom is about knowing how to act on knowledge. It turns out, there’s a wealth of wisdom within the people around us if we’re willing to listen.

Here are three more pieces of wisdom shared through stories from the online community:

Biplob Ghosh, Statistician, Statistics Canada

A good friend of mine taught me the importance of negotiating with people at work and not burning your bridges. In his particular case, he was offered a position on a different team at the same organization for something he could have a profound impact on for years to come. However, he made a verbal commitment to finish a short-term project (which would take at least half a year) shortly before the appealing offer was made to him. What to do? Switch teams now or pass on a one-time opportunity? He ended up negotiating with both teams that he would work hard on finishing up his current commitments faster so that he could make the transition sooner. One doesn’t know where they’ll end up, so it’s good to have people who will be your advocates now and in years to come.

I have another piece of wisdom that might be useful.

Everyone always talks about doing what you love. But how do you find that out? A good friend of mine helped me answer that. My friend loves mathematical theories and their applications, and his current job suits his education and interest. I once asked him, “Would you do this job for free?” He answered in the affirmative without hesitation. Therefore, any pay, benefits and vacation are just bonuses. So one way of finding out what you are passionate about is to ask what would you do for free, without any compensation other than just the satisfaction of work done well. Anything else is just icing on a very satisfying cake.

Robyn C. Jackson, Stay-at-Home Mom and Freelance Writer, Self-Employed

As a wife and mother for the last 19 years, I have had many jobs. These jobs allowed me the freedom not only to be at home with my children, but also to write as I needed or wanted. Writing has been the only constant in my long list of jobs. At some point, it stopped being a job and became a career; this is not because I am making wonderful money, but because it is my passion.

I can remember back in junior high when I would write poetry every chance I had. I even wrote it in Spanish and received extra credit. The other students hated me because they ended up having to write poetry in Spanish as an assignment. Due to the way the students treated me, I almost stopped writing poetry. This was until one day, my English teacher spoke to me. Mr Hallstein said, “There will always be people who hate your writing for one reason or another. There will always be people who will be jealous of your writing and mistreat you because of it, but you need to keep writing because it is part of who you are.”

When I heard those words, I realized that my writing style will not be for everyone. It may even be only for a handful, but it is the handful that will read my words and feel what I felt when I wrote them. They will be the ones who understand me and who can relate to me. They will be the ones who will, in a small but significant way, be part of my world and my life, even if we never meet face to face.

If I had to give credit to anyone for encouraging me or giving me words of wisdom, it would be him: Mr. Hallstein, who helped me realize that writing is in fact part of who I am and I never want to give up on me.

Abe Palmer, Manager, Retail

I have what I think to be two of the best statements of advice I have ever been given. The first is from my father:

“Son! If you learn how to work with your hands, you’ll never be without a job.”

Back then in 1976, I was 14 years old and had no idea what he was telling me, but I went for it anyway. Over the years, I became skilled in the trade of my father and brothers, not knowing that someday, an interconnected skill would be used in my career of choice that I still embrace after 29 years in retail. I didn’t see that my father was telling me that if I developed my work ethic and applied it to all I do, that I would always excel. It is never too early in life to learn this needed attribute and it will serve you through your entire life.

The second is from Haven Simons, a former COO of the first retail company I worked for:

“Balance between a person’s professional, personal and social life is crucial to reach one’s full potential.”

I have witnessed firsthand what balance and imbalance can cause. I am embarrassed to say that I know the meaning of this quote: “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”

What pieces of wisdom have you gained from the elders in your life? Tell us in the comments below!

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  1. Mysti Reutlinger
    Posted October 2, 2011 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    I always look forward to your postings, Samantha. You capture real stories in a thorough, engaging, and casual manner that encourages readers to read through the end last word and still want more. Another brilliant piece! Thank you!

    • Posted October 13, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

      Aww, thanks so much for saying so, Mysti! Hugs! Although the truth is, I really think these stories shine through on their own. =P I’m just a medium. =)

  2. Abe
    Posted October 2, 2011 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    Yes, another wonderful post. Over the years I have had the opportunity to be involved with the development of numerous young people starting in the working world. I celebrated with every success they encountered. Today things are differant. Technology with the youth (Business and leaders in our future)seems to have started to replace the hands on wisdom that can be provided by experianced individuals. What can be said to encourage a balance of Old School wisdom with Technilogical advances to develope ones skill set.

    I really like the wisdom of Not burning your bridges.

    • Posted October 13, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

      Abe! Thank you SOO much again for sharing your pieces of wisdom! I can definitely see what you mean — we may possibly be more isolated because we find information on our own so easily through technology. I’m learning to value more and more those one and one experiences that I more often have here in Peru. And I can’t wait to learn more and more from you too, friend. =)

  3. Posted October 3, 2011 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    Wonderful post! As always!

    I love how inspirational your stories are, Sam. I would love a way to subscribe to your posts so that I don’t miss them!

    • Posted October 13, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

      Aww, you’re the best, Dayle! =) Thanks so much for saying so and for bringing that up! I’ve been campaigning for the ability to subscribe to authors too! I’ll bring it up with my boss again! =)

  4. Posted October 3, 2011 at 1:55 am | Permalink

    All three responses were wonderful Sam! I was able to relate to each in a different way.

    Negotiation is indeed an art! The faster you are able to learn it the better :)And his tip on finding your passion is brilliant!

    The SAHM, well there is just so much there, but really it goes back to what I had touched on as well, you can not ever let rejection stop you. You (we) can not please everyone, our style is not everyone’s style (like she said)

    And the last interview, his quotes are spot on.
    Good stuff Sam! Keep that creativity flowin’!!!

    • Posted October 14, 2011 at 12:01 am | Permalink

      Wow! I’m so glad you were able to vibe with these pieces of wisdom, Elise. =)

      My friend Biplob is actually the first person who got me interested in the art of negotiation. =) He’s been doing his research oer the years!

      Thanks so much for your encouragement, friend!

  5. Vinny T
    Posted October 3, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Another informative and inspirational post, Samantha. Thanks.The most important wisdom gained by me from elders was transmitted by my parents and close family members by their example rather than by words.These were the values of love, patience, honesty and hard work. I hope that will be as effective in transmitting these values as they have been.

    • Posted October 14, 2011 at 12:02 am | Permalink

      What a great point, Vinny! Now that I reflect on it, I have sure learned a lot from my family and extended family just by the way they live. =) Those are the very same values they transmitted too. =)

  6. Posted October 3, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Sam, Wonderful post my friend. I can relate to all three, but mostly to Robyn C. Jackson.

    For the longest time, I tried to reach everybody with my style of writing. I would get seriously frustrated when the numbers didn’t match my set goal. I begin to write about why the people I thought should have been weren’t supporting me, and quickly found myself ready to throw in the towel.

    Before the towel made it to the nearest trashcan, I ran across many people (yourself included) that would tell me that they enjoyed my work. I couldn’t understand why some people were loving it, while others couldn’t even click on the link. Still very frustrated, I found myself changing my style of writing. I then began writing about what I thought people wanted to read.

    Not long after I took that stance, I was seriously back considering to chunk that towel as far as I could throw it. I hated writing about SEO, Marketing, and what I thought it took to be a great blogger. The fact that I hated it, showed throughout my work. It was truly crap.

    Then a fellow blogger approach me and told me that I needed to write about what I wanted to write about, because my distaste for the material that I was writing was bleeding through every single word. He even had the nerve to call my work boring. “What the…”

    Yet, you know what that did? It sent me off on a search to find out what really drives me to write. What could I write about and I wouldn’t care if I ever earned one sent for it. I found that calling for my life. And I have to say that it would’ve never taken place had the fellow blogger not called me out on a few things.

    I soon learned just like Robyn that my style of writing isn’t for everyone, and that’s truly OK. It means more to me that the people who’ll appreciate it the most read what I have to say. And let me tell you, I’ve never been more happier in my life because of it.

    Awesome post Chica, I truly enjoyed the read! :)

    • Posted October 14, 2011 at 12:13 am | Permalink

      Wow! It has been so interesting to read about your journey through writing and self-acceptance, Deeone. I often feel the same way in my life, even now and even when it has nothing to do with writing. I go back and forth between what I think people will like and what I truly love. Fortunately, it’s good friends like you who share stories like these to remind me that what’s most important is being true to myself now and always.

      How frustrating to receive that kind of harsh feedback from a fellow blogger. I really admire you taking that as motivation to change direction rather than wallowing in feeling offended.

      Thank you soo much for your friendship and *your* wisdom, Deeone!

  7. Posted October 3, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Wow, you put a lot of wisdom and thought provokers in one place here Samantha. Really enjoy these posts. Keep ‘em coming!

    • Posted October 14, 2011 at 12:31 am | Permalink

      Ooh! That’s definitely what I imagined doing with this series, Bonnie. =) I’m so glad you enjoy these posts!

  8. Posted October 4, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Another winner Samantha. I think that everyone has wisdom of one sort or another. Much of it is passed down from parents, teachers and others. Sometimes, I listen to my grandchildren and their wisdom astounds me. Other times I remember lessons I learned from my grandparents,
    I think the greatest wisdom from these stories is to live without regret one day at a time. Love what you do, who you are with and forgive.
    Thanks for sharing

    • Posted October 14, 2011 at 12:32 am | Permalink

      So true, Roberta! I think it was a fun experience for the contributors to reflect on pieces of wisdom they’ve received in their lives too. =) And you’re so right that everyone has wisdom within them. =) Thanks so much for sharing your oh-so-important piece — I hope to live and love without regrets too!

  9. Posted October 5, 2011 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    These are wonderful stories of wisdom, Samantha. I love the tale of integrity. Keeping our word is so important and it is always possible to find a solution if you lay it all out and are open with people.

    • Posted October 14, 2011 at 12:33 am | Permalink

      I love how you put it, Tambre. Sometimes, we feel like there’s no other way, but we just need to learn to be more creative, I think. =)

  10. Posted October 5, 2011 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    I love this “Career Wisdom From Our Elders” series. These people have learned that if you find work that you love, it is really not work at all. The time just flies by when you are doing something that you enjoy.
    Wonderful post, Samantha!

    • Posted October 14, 2011 at 12:34 am | Permalink

      Exactly so, Janette! I’m so glad that you and I are both doing what we love, so we can continue to share that positive energy! =)

  11. Posted October 5, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Wise words indeed! Thank you for publishing this Sam, and special thanks to Biplob, Robyn and Abe of course! One wise ‘advice’ that really stuck to me came from my late Grandfather. When I was in the process of deciding what major to pursue in college, he said, he would never want me to be in an industry or line or work involved in ‘telling lies’ or deceit. (He was never a fan of the advertising industry). Maybe this is also why I never liked sales and have always felt incapable to sell anything.

    • Posted October 14, 2011 at 12:35 am | Permalink

      Ooh! I never thought of it that way, Joy! Maybe that’s why I had never felt comfortable selling myself, others, or products either. Sounds like your grandfather was a very wise man and I’m so glad that his memory lives on through you. =)

  12. Posted October 5, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Truly inspiring wisdom that you are sharing Samantha. It is hard for me to pinpoint any one moment or person that I received wisdom and knowledge from. Everyone I meet brings something into my life which as you mention above, you need to be open and ready to receive wisdom to learn and apply. Too many times I think we really don’t listen and then can certainly hinder our ability to learn and become more wise. Good article, I really enjoyed your journey Samantha!

    • Posted October 14, 2011 at 12:36 am | Permalink

      What a great attitude, Lynn! Working in the Andes has taught me the very same lesson — that we can learn from every single person we meet. =) I hope to always have my eyes and ears open for these pieces of wisdom! =) Thanks for the reminder!

  13. Posted October 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Thanks again for this post Sam. How do you find such good people and good advice? Keep them coming!

    • Posted October 14, 2011 at 12:36 am | Permalink

      It turns out, we all have good pieces of advice tucked under our belt! =) Thanks for the encouragement, Muriel!

  14. Posted October 6, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Another great post Sam. I especially liked Robyn’s recollection of the encouraging words by her teacher.

    • Posted October 14, 2011 at 12:37 am | Permalink

      Thanks so much, Lalia! I was especially able to relate to Robyn’s story too. =) Maybe it’s the writer in us. =)

  15. Posted October 8, 2011 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    I especially love ‘“Balance between a person’s professional, personal and social life is crucial to reach one’s full potential.” I wish someone had imparted that to me a long time ago!

    Words of wisdom – my grandfather told me to travel.

    • Posted October 14, 2011 at 12:37 am | Permalink

      Wow! =) I wish I had someone who encouraged me to travel. =) In any case, I’m so glad I did and I’m really glad you did too. =) I know it’s been life-changing for the both of us!

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