Don’t Be A Sheep and Other Lasting Advice

We are bombarded by many thousands of words of advice over the course of our lives. A lot of it misses the mark, because in most cases we’re not in the right place for it to have any meaning. Parental advice I got when I was twenty? Meh. Well-intentioned fashion advice for me at any age? Yawn.

I remember a friend of mine telling me the best advice she ever got from her mom was to make the bed every morning, as soon as she got up. She stuck by that advice and it seemed to make a difference for her. If that was my mom’s advice, it would already be long forgotten.

Here are the words that not only have hit the mark for me, but endured.

Don’t Be a Sheep

My grandpa’s best advice. Don’t follow the crowd. He never said to be a wolf, just don’t be a blind, hapless follower. I took this nugget to heart. I’m the person in a crowded room near the exit (and I know where they ALL are), I hang back while the group moves forward — or in any direction. I don’t feel comfortable with group decisions, even dinner plans. I might go, I might not. I enjoy a group dynamic occasionally, but I also always have an out clause.

Thinking for yourself will usually make you unpopular, but do you really care? When I was younger I made excuses for going my own way. I had a million ways to beg off, because I didn’t want to offend anyone. “I’m tired.” “I have a meeting.” “I have to work.” Now I use the direct approach and say, “No thanks.”

Find at Least One Thing to be Thankful for Each Day

A gem from Mom. These words in practice have saved my sanity more than once. There is always something to be thankful for. And when you find one thing, you’ll probably find more.

Even at my lowest points, there has been something to be thankful for. It might be mundane, like the fact that I have enough coffee to make a pot in the morning. Well, if that’s all I’ve got, then thank goodness for it!

Nothing Is Personal

My own advice to myself, but I probably picked it up in a book somewhere along the way. Getting cut off in traffic, passed over for a promotion, my texts ignored, life just generally not cooperating — not personal!

It’s easy to get caught up in drama, to imagine that every negative event happening around you relates to you. Guess what, it doesn’t. Harsh words from a friend? They’re in a bad place. That’s not on you. A particularly nasty comment on your Medium post? Someone’s having issues, but it isn’t you. What people say and do is self-centered.

It’s them, not you. Nothing is personal.

Give Genuine Compliments Freely

This is something I learned by observing a co-worker. She was supposed to be my partner, a close teammate. She talked the talk — “We should support each other, we’re a team!” “We should share knowledge, we need to have each other’s back.”

I agreed with her words, but in reality, she did the opposite. She was insecure about her job. I’ve been there. The last thing she needed was opposition from me.

I didn’t know if we would ever gel as teammates, but I realized I could treat her as a friend, even if we weren’t. When I meant it, when it was genuine, I gave her compliments. When she wrote a great report, I told her. When she conducted a great meeting, high fives after. It totally changed the dynamic.

Think about how you feel when you receive a well-deserved compliment. You can change someone’s day just by giving them kind words.

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