Vail Daily column: Unsolicited advice for graduates
It’s that time of year when we celebrate our high school and college students graduating and moving on to their next great life adventure. Every student at this age thinks they have all the answers. Those of us who have been there and done that know that in reality — as our students venture out on their own, ready to rule the world — they know nothing.
And that’s OK because they’ll learn as they gain life experience (and we’ve all been there). As someone with a bit more experience (i.e., I’m old), I’m able to offer helpful (?) advice to our graduating students and future community leaders. Advice they’ll likely ignore and learn on their own in due time. But I regress. With that, some unsolicited advice for graduates:
• Working hard for something you don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something you do care about is called passion. Find a career that you’re passionate about.
• Don’t mistake activity for results.
• If you do the minimum to get by, then you can expect minimal results.
• Certainty breeds complacency.
• Avoid the temptation to dumb things down.
• Never stop learning.
• Read. And read. And then read some more. It’s the best and easiest way to keep learning and to stay ahead of the curve in your professional field.
• It’s hard to hate up close.
• You only regret the things you don’t do.
• Perseverance is the key to success.
• Challenge your comfort zone.
• Recognize that “work-life balance” is an unachievable myth. Find a job you love and you won’t ever worry about work-life balance. Work hard, play hard and make time for family and other pursuits.
• Embrace life events. Life will throw you some curves that you may or may not think you’ll be able to deal with.
• Don’t look back. You’re not going that way.
• More people, more money. This is true in our tourist driven economy, and it’s equally true in any industry segment. The law of supply and demand is a universal truth and understanding this basic principal will serve you well in the future.
• Show appreciation. Others will notice and it will make you stand out.
• Think big.
• Live large.
• Be nice.
• Avoid angry people.
• Because being angry never solved any problems, channel that energy and get involved to create positive solutions.
• Besides, angry people don’t often succeed. If they do, then they are sure to be lonely.
• Don’t complain. You’re in charge of your attitude.
• The worst thing you can do is not try.
• “We have always done it that way” are seven words that will hold you back in business and will limit your career advancement faster than you can say “Why didn’t I get that promotion, again?”
• Success isn’t defined by how busy you are, but rather by how much you get done. When someone tells me they are “busy”, what I hear is “I’m completely incompetent (at prioritizing my time and tasks)”. Only I often don’t hear the “at prioritizing my time and tasks” part.
• You fail all the time, but you aren’t a failure until you blame someone else.
• So take responsibility and learn from your failures to improve your next effort.
• Challenge your team by giving them autonomy and responsibility. Delegation is the hardest professional skill to learn, as delegation requires complete faith in those around you.
• Nothing is as hard as you think. Or as scary as you fear.
• The easiest way to advance and stand out in your career is by doing things others choose not to.
• Embrace silence. You don’t always need to talk.
• In fact, sometimes the most powerful thing you can say is nothing.
• Job descriptions can be self-limiting. Instead focus on getting things done.
• Regardless of your job description, never (ever) say “It’s not my job”. If it needs to be done, and if you work there, then by definition it is in fact your job. Otherwise, it’s likely you won’t have a job.
• Know your audience. Using that selfie as your LinkedIn profile picture isn’t doing you any favors. Really. No matter how good a photo it might be.
• No one is as happy as they seem on Facebook, as skilled as they seem on LinkedIn or as annoying as they seem on Twitter.
• Don’t overly rely on email. Every once in a while pick up the phone to — you know — call someone.
• That person you call? On occasion, make it your mother.
• Those who wait are stuck with the scraps that those who hustle have left behind.
• Don’t make excuses.
• Never define yourself based on your competition.
• Successful people will look for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people will look at “What’s in it for me?”
• Never underestimate a man’s ability to overestimate his ability.
• Work for someone that believes in you.
• Last but not least, always leave them wanting more.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.
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