What’s the Best Advice You Ever Got?

In the past couple of years, at least two national publications have put out regular columns under the heading of “the best advice I ever got.” I was flipping through Fortune magazine this week and came across their latest version of the article – this time it was blown out to include six pieces of advice from the featured guru. I immediately thought, wow – what a great exercise for any leader! So here’s the challenge (and we’ve got a long holiday weekend coming up, so you can afford to take a few minutes to do this exercise):

What is your version of “the best advice I ever got”? Give it some thought, and then write it down – make it concise, instructive, and inspirational. Then, jot down 5-6 pieces of advice that you would offer to others that could accompany your “best advice” story, and share it with your team. Encourage your direct reports to do the same, and have everyone share their reflections and tips. It should spark some great conversations…

Clearly, by the very label of this exercise, this is an enduring story that you can and should perfect, to share again and again with your teams. The best advice you ever got should be something pretty special, no?

To illustrate, here’s my “best advice” story. A long time ago, I had a wonderful boss, Rich Millard. He told me one day – “the only thing that your people will remember about you is how you treated them. No one will remember what you did, but they will remember what it felt like to work for (or with) you.” That advice really resonated with me, and has guided me ever since…

What’s your “best advice” story? Think back to your past colleagues, managers, and mentors, and capture the sound bite. Then, share it with your team, and talk about what it means to you. It’s a great reflection exercise that will serve you well as you mentor others throughout your career…