A colleague of mine encouraged her daughter, a second-year pre-med college student, to reach out and ask the question, “What’s the best piece of advice you’d offer a college student?” When I received this request, I gave it some deliberate thought. And as I wrote these responses out for her, I was reminded that this guidance is applicable to all of us when we stop and think about it. I hope there is a message here that connects with you as well.
“Never settle in life. You are committed to medical school and that is awesome, we need more bright and compassionate physicians. Never settle for less than you want or deserve at school, in life, in your pursuit of the right position when you finish school, and never settle when it comes to romance, (these are words I have preached to my own daughters).
“A lesson I learned long ago was regarding `equal stature.’ Even though you are in your second year, your knowledge and wisdom may have you wiser than your years. I share this because sometimes in school and in the workplace, people do not give enough respect to younger students or newer employees. Carry yourself with confidence. There are three keys to success: confidence, confidence and confidence. Confidence in yourself, confidence in your knowledge, and confidence in your heart and compassion. These will never let you down.
“Always be curious. The smartest person in the room is not the person talking or teaching. The smartest person in the room is the one asking the best questions. This works in school, at work, and in social settings. The person who asks great questions seems to garner greater respect. It’s OK not to have the answers, and it’s even better when we are brave enough to ask the questions.
“Guard your head and heart. We can be, do, and have anything we want in this world. And unfortunately, there is a lot of noise out there, as people try to pressure others into their beliefs. So, watch what information you allow into your head and heart. Our sources of input are critical to life success. This also goes for the people in our lives. Are they toxic? Negative? Do they drain our energy? These are the people you need to avoid, and if they are already in your life, take the time to walk away, as hard as that may seem.
“Lastly, create your word bank. Too often people aren’t ready or equipped when confrontation, conflict, or disagreements occur. And when we aren’t ready, if we haven’t built our mental model on how we would respond instead of react, and if we do not have our go-to words top of mind and heart, we can miss opportunities to defuse situations. On the positive side, when we have our word bank visible and top of mind, we tend to lean into those words, and they bring joy to our day and into each interaction we have with anyone around us. People love positive people. Some of the words in my word bank include, love, forgiveness, grace, kindness, beauty, humility, generosity, abundance, encouragement, hope (that’s a big one), gentleness, compassion, patience, endurance, determination and trust.
“Thanks for the opportunity to connect. If you ever want to talk through this guidance, please let me or your mom know and I would be happy to jump on a call, as I live by this philosophy that I learned from Zig Ziglar and that changed my life, `You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.’ If you would like, next time we can talk about goals and accountability and accountability partners.”
You probably have even more and maybe better guidance to offer, and I would love to hear what that would be at firstname.lastname@example.org. And when we can never settle, always be curious, guard what goes into our hearts and minds, and have our positive word bank ready to go, it really will be a better than good life.
Michael Norton is an author, a personal and professional coach, consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator of individuals and businesses, working with organizations and associations across multiple industries.