The Best Career Advice I Ever Received

It’s so simple.

photo by Sam Lion, via Pexels

I was a successful media and entertainment executive for over 25 years, and as you can imagine, I received lots of advice during that time. Some of it was very good, some missed the mark, and some was downright shitty.

With that said, there was one piece of advice that was genuinely game-changing for me and my career, and I’d like to share that with you.

Reflection

It’s a word that evokes a zen mentality. And as a busy executive, taking time to reflect seemed like a luxury that I could never afford. When I received the advice, I was the Chief Strategy Officer for a major media company, plus I had an NYC commute and two teenage girls at home. I was living an overwhelming life and always stressed out. There was no time for a personal phone call or lunch with a friend, much less time to reflect. Instead, I was always playing catch-up and logging in every night after dinner. Sound familiar?

Yet, have you ever been around someone who is highly successful, much more senior than you, with even more demands on them, yet they seem calm, in control, and able to focus on what’s important? I asked one of my industry colleagues, “What’s your secret to remaining cool and collected in the midst of what must be enormous pressure?” His explanation was simply, “Reflection.” I asked numerous questions, and he shared profound advice that was actually quite simple.

Let’s talk about the practical steps on making this work for you, even in 2021 within the WFH lifestyle’s confines.

Journaling

If you’re wincing at the word, I hear you; Initially, I was not a fan either. But once I broke it down to only four core questions to ask myself, I was ready to give it a shot. I bought myself a motivating leather-bound journal, and at the end of each day, I wrote:

1. What were my goals for the day?

2. What went well?

3. What did not?

4. If I got a “do-over,” how would I have done it differently?

Taking the time to think through my day, my interactions with people, prioritizing my time, and the decisions I made brought everything into a crystal clear view. It was truly eye-opening. Now, no longer running from one fire to the next, I was effectively learning from my experience. I encourage you to try it, even just for 21 business days. That’s how long it takes to create a new habit. According to Richard Carlson, self-help author of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,

“Reflection is one of the most underused yet powerful tools for success.”

Since few people take the time to reflect on their workday, it can be your secret weapon, or as I said in my last blog, your X-Factor. You learn from your successes and your mistakes while others keep repeating the same mistakes!

If you like this post, consider following me on Medium, LinkedIn, Instagram, and subscribing to my newsletter at kimmartinthecoach.com so you can receive my strategies for career success right in your inbox!

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Kim Martin

A thought leader in the areas of executive leadership, change management, and women in the C-suite.