What advice would you give your younger self?

As we have been getting ready for my son’s graduation from “The U” next week, I found myself wondering, what do I wish someone had told me when I first graduated?

Be yourself! You are one of a kind, there is no one else out there like you. Don’t waste your time trying to be like someone else. Understand what differentiates you from others and makes you unique and embrace those attributes. As Sheryl Sandberg says, “bring your whole, authentic self every single day.” Let your personality shine through. “I love working with Florence because she is so robotic and displays no emotion,” said no one, ever…

Build a strong network. Networking is an important skill to learn early on. Over the course of your career, your network will become one of your most valuable assets. The most successful people I have met have networks that span industries, geographies and occupations. Some times it is individuals outside of your immediate sphere that end up being a connector or offering savvy advice. Supporting others work, accomplishments, life events and activities is a key part of networking and relationship building. Be kind, be a connector, be a giver and a catalyst when you network. Givers get more! Give a lot and you have credit in the bank when you need to make a withdrawal.

Fail fast… When I graduated from college I was terrified of failure and then it happened and it felt like a gritty, dirty, bottomless pit. I had to quickly learn the art of resilience. Ninety percent of your well being depends on how you choose to deal with a situation rather than the situation itself. Now, many years later, I have gotten to a place in life where I can embrace failure, even though it feels really bad when it is happening it can be a positive thing, as long as you learn from it and look for the greater message in the experience. Someone once advised me to learn to view failure as a stepping stone on your way to success.

Embrace experiences! Experiences provide greater long term satisfaction than material possessions. For many years, my husband and I opted to live in smaller homes, so we could afford to fund adventures for our family. My kids don’t remember what they received for Christmas a few years after the fact but they do remember being in Fiji and participating in a meke with the locals and drinking cava for the first time. Life is about creating new memories. So, be sure to use your vacation time. Make a bucket list. It is important to seize new adventures and to share those experiences with others.

Practice gratitude. Gratitude helps us put situations into perspective. When we can see the good as well as the bad, it becomes more difficult to complain and stay stuck in a bad situation. Gratitude helps us realize what we have. The awareness of what we are grateful for tends to lessen our tendency to want more all the time. So, take the time to be grateful every day, it helps open our thinking to new solutions. Also, go out of your way to thank people and show appreciation, everyone wants to feel appreciated and acknowledgement goes a long way.

What did I miss? Would love to keep the conversation going. Please share your advice.