Career Advice For My First Grade Friend

January 28, 2011 10:21 pm 4 comments

The person in my life that I first ever called my best friend was a girl named Kelly. We went to first grade together in a small Kansas town of 1200 people. We didn’t go to kindergarten, because there was none. But during the summer before we started first grade, Kelly and I were chosen to attend a teachers conference as “special students.” We were not told why. But we were placed in a room, and were given very special tasks and skills to do and then observed by all of the teachers. We were told we were special and gifted. When we went to first grade, Kelly and I could secretly look at each other, and know that we were special. We became achievers. And focuses on being the best.  Several years later, I moved away from the small town. Kelly lived her life. And lived mine. She moved to Texas. I moved around the world.

Forty years later, the power of Facebook brought us back together. And it has been great fun to virtually chat about how our special lives ebbed and flowed over time.

Recently, Kelly announced she was planning to reinvent her life in some dramatic ways. And in doing so, she sent me a note and asked for advice. Usually, requests like this send me in a tailspin to write the perfect response. This time, I decided that in 15 minutes or less, I would write a blog post about the first ten pieces of career and change advice I could think of off the top of my head. It might not be the most relevant or correct. But it speaks to me today.

I would appreciate it if you would also add your career advice tip that comes in to your mind for the day!


10 Career Advice Ideas – as of today.

1). Write a mission statement about what you think your life is meant to be. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You just have to start with a statement. Do it in the next 24 hours. And then be prepared to keep testing it, writing it and revising it.

2). I love the question, “If you could do anything, and be paid $250,000 per year to do it, what would you do? Anything. You choose!” – Once you know what that is – then find a way to do it, and I believe, that, because you are doing the thing you would be most passionate about, you could make that much money. Or perhaps, because you are doing what you really want to do – you won’t even need that much. Or maybe you will get even more!

3). Pick out 25 proactive people in your life. (If you don’t have that many – then part of your goal is to find them). For those 25 people – send them two things:

1. Tell them exactly what your vision is of your future job, and very specifically, where you need help. Ask them to help you.

2). Think of three things you could do to help them, without obligation. And in indicating those three items, ask them what you could do to help them. In my experience, I am amazed at what the power of “asking for help” can do. People naturally want to help others. We are just not very good in doing so.

4). Live in the future. Not the past. When changing careers, unless it is your specific passion, think about what you could do in the future. Social media, technology, collaboration, millennials, globalization. Individualization. Urbanization. All of these are items of the future. That is where people need help. How will you be a part of the future?

5). Each day, write a list of the obstacles you think you are facing. My belief is that each obstacle has a secret hidden treasure – a bit like a little prize in a video game if you can find a way to capture it. And so, for each of those obstacles, what is the hidden treasure? And secondly, specifically, what three things are you going to do to jump over those obstacles? Write them down. Turn them in to a list. And go get them done.

6). If you are making a big change, take time to live simply. It is a great time to clean out your home – and possessions, in a similar way to which you are cleaning out your past. Take digital pictures of things you want to keep. Print it out. Write a story about each item. And then throw away those physical things. Written memories and pictures can be as powerful as the physcial things. And besides, one day, we will forget the stories of those physical things. They will be relics. Instead, if we have photographed, and written about those items, then they live on with detail forever.

7). I recently saw a saying on a friends website from Og Mandino. This person put it there, because he, and so many people, often talk about what they are going to do, but few ever do it. It is the time to do. It is the time to act. And so, I encourage you to read this prose from Mandino every week! In fact, even better, say them outloud. There is proof that if you say something outloud, even if you are along in the room, then you will believe it more.

I will act now. I will act now. I will act now.

Henceforth, I will repeat these words each hour, each day, everyday, until the words become as much a habit as my breathing, and the action which follows becomes as instinctive as the blinking of my eyelids. With these words I can condition my mind to perform every action necessary for my success.

I will act now. I will repeat these words again and again and again. I will walk where failures fear to walk. I will work when failures seek rest. I will act now for now is all I have. Tomorrow is the day reserved for the labor of the lazy. I am not lazy. Tomorrow is the day when the failure will succeed. I am not a failure. I will act now. Success will not wait. If I delay, success will become wed to another and lost to me forever. This is the time. This is the place. I am the person. – Og Mandino

8). Take a lesson from first grade, and bulletin boards. Bulletin boards are not by accident. They are visual daily reminders of what we should be focusing on. I loved them when I was little. They are expressive. And representative. I have purchased one. I put of pictures and sayings and items I want to focus on every day of the year. Over New Years, I take everything down, recover the board with a different color of paper, and start over. It is refreshing and cleansing to do this each year.

9). Spend more time asking questions then trying to give answers.

10). Spend each day, carefully asking your soul, “What do you need today?” Be mindful of the answer. And listen to yourself.


  • 1) Whatever job or line of work you choose to do, go for something that you like to do, get the training or learning you need so you can make a comfortable living at it, and your “job” will never feel like “work”. You will look forward to doing it everyday, feel the excitement and welcome the challenges that help you grow as a person and a valuable employee.

    2) Stay away from the whiners and complainers…they will drag you down into their unhappiness. It is not a crime to love what you are doing workwise, to feel passionate about it, sometimes consumed with it (but balance it out with time for friends and family…that is still the most important thing in your life, otherwise it gets very lonely at the top). People who are happy with what they do and with themselves are more apt to contribute more to their company,organization, etc.

    3. Once I had a choice of a job that I thought I would like or a job that paid more money and I went for the money. It was one of the worst decisions I ever made….I hated what I was doing, the hours drug by each day, I received no satisfaction in what I did and it was the worst three weeks of my life. Fortunately, I was only on it for three weeks until I was given the opportunity to go a different direction with a job I was excited about and I never looked back except to have learned a very valuable lesson…the money is not the most important thing when making a choice regarding what you will be doing with each precious day of your life. We only journey through this life one time, and we should make choices that make it an enjoyable trip.

  • Superb Post Rick! Enjoyed every word of it…

  • Dear Rick and Sue,
    With all of the snow/ice days here, which includes unexpected “winter vacation” from work, I have had time to implement your ideas and work on my goals. The weather was a blessing in disguise, and the experience has been life-changing Thank you for sharing your insight; you are truly an inspiration. I will always be grateful. :)

  • Rick,

    This is cogent and poetic advice. As I find myself in transition I am not as concerned about “the what” I am doing as “the who” I am doing it with. Tied to this is an underlying principle to participate in a worthwhile endeavor, that is, something honorable.

    I look forward to reporting back to this post. I couldn’t agree more about the value in surrounding yourself with the highest caliber of peers and mentors. And that caliber is measured by integrity, character, and a sense of honor.

    With Utmost Respect ~ Semper Fi, Hank

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