Career advice can be as vast and varied as the stars in the sky. Some comes and goes throughout the decades while others appear to be timeless tidbits of wisdom. Your friends say it, your mother says it, heck, career counselors may even say it. However, that doesn’t mean it’s always the best advice.
To prove this point, we’re calling out three common pieces of career advice and showing just how wrong they can be. The first is the classic “always follow your passion.” The problem with this is people end up in a dreamland where they’ll never quite find what they’re seeking, and ultimately, end up disappointed.
While you should always pursue a field that interests you, that passion can come later. Often the most successful professionals start at a job of interest and their passion develops and guides them over time. If you limit your job search to what you’re only passionate about now, you’ll severely hinder your potential. What’s worse, a person’s passion often doesn’t come with much of a paycheck.
Another common piece of advice is “fake it until you make it.” Sure, a confident demeanor can get you far in life, but if you go too long, your cover will be blown and you’ll look foolish. Start by realizing in order to be a good professional, you must be a life learner. There will always be things that don’t come naturally to you; it’s up to you to be proactive about staying ahead of the curve.
What’s more, rather than “fake it,” try asking for help. Talk with your co-workers and forge a stronger bond by requesting assistance. It’s OK to be humble and learn from others with experience. Reach out to your supervisor. A good boss will welcome the opportunity to provide input to ensure a high-quality result that benefits the entire team.
The final cliche piece of career advice people often hear is “don’t rock the boat,” especially when they first start a job. Yes, you want to tread softly as you get to know your new team and find your place in the culture, but you don’t have to be a cookie-cutter employee who quietly sits and does the job.
To get ahead in your career you need to stand out. This means working hard, thinking outside the box, voicing your opinion, and taking chances — all things that very likely will rock the boat. Ask questions, think of better ways to do business, and get creative. Of course you never want to come off as arrogant, but by offering your unique view you’ll get noticed. Don’t tip the boat, but a gentle sway never hurt anyone, and in fact it can lead to some pretty amazing things.
These three pieces of advice will likely come your way multiple times in your career. Fortunately, now you know the truth and can enlighten others as well.