My name is Samantha Walters and I am what you would consider a “millennial executive” over here at Colocation America. Every Monday (get it, get it, Samantha on Mondays – the S.O.M column) I will write a little something on whatever is on my mind from business practices to current events and everything else in between.
This week’s topic is on life advice.
Let’s start of this week’s article with a cultural taboo – how old are you? No, I do not mean the age you tell the cute girl at the bar or that age you have been saying for the last decade but really, what is your age?
Now think back to when you were 25 years old, are you doing the same thing you did then? Better yet, are you the same person you were in your mid-twenties?
Now think about who you are today, did your experiences influence your choices? Did the advice of some more seasoned individuals help you make life decisions?
As a 26 year old, I can only speculate as to what I would think about my twenties. I’m sure 46 year old Samantha will question why I waited so long to find “the one” (or few) and why I didn’t go to more European countries. I am sure I will look back and think “man, that was some good times” and, at the same time, wonder “what was I thinking?!”
One thing is for sure, I would thank my many mentors for the powerful lessons they taught me.
Every step along the way, these individuals that have filled my mind with, well, more questions than answers. These individuals, through their words of wisdom, provide the fuel I need to keep pushing. It is through listening to their trials and tribulations that I find myself embarking on a journey that I never even dreamt of.
With that said, it would be a shame (borderline crime) if I was to not pass on their wisdom. So here goes, the top 5 pieces of life advice I have received:
Two semesters into my graduate degree at Pepperdine University, I found myself in a classroom with a minister as a professor. Considering that Pepperdine is an “affiliate of the Churches of Christ,” having a religious professor did not surprise me. In all honesty, I spent the good part of his class waiting to see how often he would bring religion into the conversation. So one day, as I sat in his class discussing global issues and the reason behind people’s decisions, I was just waiting for him to mention that a higher power influences their decisions. Once again, my class did not disappoint. Yes, we established that a person’s religious beliefs does influence their decisions but, as my professor mentioned, so does three other things: heart, brain, and ego.
My professor went on to explain the following (paraphrased, of course), “when you make any decision in life think of three things: your heart, your brain, and your ego. Are you making the decision because your heart, your feelings are telling you to? Are you making the decision because your brain, your logic and reason say so? Or are you doing it for your ego, your pride? Many times we make decisions based on one of these three things and we lose sight of the other two.”
After graduating from the University of Arizona with my undergraduate degree in a social science and no prospect of a career (shameless promotion for my article on the matter here), I sought out advice from my Mom’s best friend who just happens to be a life coach. One day as I roamed around LA aimlessly, I gave her a call with the hope that she will give me some life-changing advice (or at least get my Mom off my back). After asking me questions about what I liked and where I saw myself going in the future, she bluntly asked me “why do you believe that the career you start in is the career you have to finish?”
Upon hearing my made-up answer, she gave me some of the best advice on careers, “careers do not have to follow some predetermined path. Your career can be comprised of jobs that all build upon each other or they do not have to be. You can be successful in one job, take those skills you learned, and go to another job. You can change industries, management levels, or even location. There is no rule that says that you are stuck in one career – one job, one industry – for the rest of your life. Why can’t you do both things you love?”
Out of all the lessons and experiences I have had, this one hits home, literally.
As the saying goes, you cannot choose your family. Thankfully, I have been lucky to have an awesome family that both shows me what love is and how to give it. But as with all families, there are those family members that you just get and those that get you. And then there are the other people. Although you love them, it may just be a bit harder for you to relate to them and this will lead to little disagreements over the course of time. If you are like me, you will make the mistake of thinking these individuals will act and think the same way you do. Sadly, they will not. However, because they are family, you look past it and love them for who they are.
Which brings me to my third life lesson brought to you by my Papa, “do not expect more from people than what they can give. Look at the person for who they are and what they have done in the past. For example, do not be surprised when a crook steals from you. Although they may have changed their ways, it does not mean they changed who they are. Now, I do not mean stop trusting people or stop giving second chances, just do not be disappointed when someone does what they always have. Love them for all they are and you will never be disappointed.”
For anyone who has the pleasure of talking to me (yep, I am going to say I’m a delight), they may have heard me say that I was raised by a salesman. Like my fellow children of salesman will attest, growing up with a salesman is, let’s say, interesting. To sum it up, you spend a lot of time talking to random people (especially in lines and bars) and understanding at too early of an age the power of the economy. You learn that people are full of emotion and that knowing a person’s name matters. You learn how to be direct and to the point. Most importantly, you learn to have a purpose behind everything you do.
One thing my dad always said, “have a purpose for every call, every encounter. When you call someone up, you better have a reason behind it. Especially in business, people do not have time to just talk – they want to know why you called them and how it will impact their lives. It is as easy of saying “the purpose of my call today is…” and that will tell the person everything. Remember that life is about creating meaningful moments so think about the purpose of why you are doing something before you do it.”
This one comes straight from the most selfless individual I know – my sister. Without making her blush too much, let’s put it this way, she is a thoughtful, loving individual who, all too often, thinks about others before herself. She is quick to do anything for a friend and is my biggest support system (even when, in all honesty, she should abandon me). Ironically, she is the one that reminds me to do what I think is best for myself rather than what would make the most people happy.
Here is what my sister always tells me, “you need to do what is best for you. At the end of the day, the only person that you have to make happy is you. If you were to live your life by what other people want you to do, you will never be satisfied and especially not happy. Everyone will always give you their opinions and they may even be disappointed in your choices but just know that you are the only one that has to live with those decisions. It’s simple – will this decision make you happy? If it will, and won’t cause pain to others, do it and do it full heartedly.”