What’s the Best Career Advice You Ever Got from Grandma?

by Joe Lavelle on November 7, 2011

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If you are a successful professional, you probably can point to a shelf filled with books that you’ve read about how to market yourself, network with others in the field, and otherwise get ahead in your chosen career.  To be sure, there are some great writers who have important advice to share concerning career advancement and I count quite a few of them among my friends.  But, there is also something to be said for the words of wisdom that were spoken by your grandma around a dining room table or while sitting in a rocking chair many years ago.

A recent article on CNN’s Money website discusses the pearls of sage advice that some of our nation’s top executives still carry with them that were passed down from their grandma or another older family member.  Don’t live beyond your means.  Take criticism from others and decide what you can learn from it.  Create an environment that establishes long-term and desired relationships with the people in your life.  Search to find ways to perform acts of kindness for others.  Be grateful.  These are all ideas that will help you not only get ahead in your career, but have a more fulfilling life as well.

The article points out that we don’t spend a lot of time asking successful executives about their family legacies and this may be a missed opportunity for some great learning.

So, now I want to know from you – is there one piece of advice that you received from your grandmother or another older figure in your life that has shaped the way you do business?  What is something that our elders have known all along that you now see for yourself has stood the test of time in your own career?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter (Career Trend)No Gravatar November 11, 2011 at 11:13 am

Joe,
What a great post. “Pearls of sage advice” from our older family members are what we carry around for a lifetime. I especially like, “Be grateful.”

My paternal grandmother died just over 11 years ago – she was in her mid-90s. My parents made sure we had the opportunity to spend quality and quantity time with her. Most summers when I was a young girl, I would pack up my little overnight bag and take a 2-3 night trip to her house. During my visits, she taught me to crochet, we took luxurious walks to the old-fashioned drugstore for a hamburger, fries and homemade malt … and more.

Through Grandma, I think I learned through witnessing her actions as much as I did through her words. She was very meticulous in every act she performed, appreciating the simplest things and activities, from properly dressing a bed in the morning to artfully preparing a fried chicken dinner in the evenings, to patiently teaching me to crochet and even, immersing me in the technique of tatting.

Moreover, as I entered into adulthood, I especially noticed what a good, positive, engaging listener Grandma was. I don’t think there is a much better skill and gift that one can give, than to listen, and respond encouragingly, to another human being.

This skill of listening, and being ‘curious’ about other people’s thoughts, ideas and feelings, can be a very important one in business, in our careers.

Thank you for taking me down memory lane with this thoughtful post, Joe.

~Jacqui

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Joe LavelleNo Gravatar November 11, 2011 at 3:37 pm

And thank you Jacqui for the inspiring story about your grandmother! I am almost drooling thinking about how good that chicken probably was!

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