10 Important Career Lessons Most People Learn too Late in Life.

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I recently read an article on LinkedIn by Bernard Marr.  It was a fantastic article.  I was so stricken with it that I wanted to pass it along to my fellow readers:

10 Important Career Lessons Most People Learn Too Late In Life

Keep your head down and your nose to the grindstone.

That’s what a lot of us were taught to believe about work. But is it really the best strategy?

I find that people often take this sort of advice to heart — and then learn too late in their careers that there’s more to life (and success) than just keeping busy.

I’ve gathered up my top 10 lessons you should take to heart now, before it’s too late!

  1. Life is short. Here’s the thing: Life is too short to put up with a job you hate, a boss who demeans you, or a company with no soul.  Many people convince themselves that they can put up with a job or career situation that makes them unhappy because they need the income, because they don’t know if they can find another job, or for some other reason. But the truth is none of us knows how long we have on this earth, and spending too much of it in a bad situation will only make you miserable and regretful. If you’re in this situation, take a step today — no matter how small — toward a better situation.
  2. Social networks matter. You might think that networking events are dull, that it’s boring to chat with coworkers around the watercooler, or that you’re simply a born introvert, but study after study confirms that social networks are vital to our success. In fact, the most successful people tend to have the broadest and most diverse social networks. The more time and effort you put into nurturing your social networks, the more successful you are likely to be.
  3. Sacrificing your health for success or wealth isn’t worth it. Many driven, successful people have a hard time creating work/life balance and can end up burning out or developing serious health problems from stress and overwork. The truth is, it’s much easier to stay healthy than to heal from a problem or disease — and no amount of success or money can replace your health. Don’t take your health for granted and take steps to mitigate stress that could cause problems later.
  4. None of the best moments of your life will take place looking at a screen. In our connected world, it’s tempting to let all the little screens we have access to dictate our lives. But you’ll never reach the end of your life wishing you’d spent more time checking email on your phone. Disconnect regularly and experience real life.
  5. Never stop learning. With the rate at which technologies are changing today, if you decide that you are “done” learning, you will be left behind within a matter of years, if not sooner. The idea that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is blatantly false, and you will never wake up and regret having invested in your mind by learning something new.
  6. Diversify. Hand in hand with learning, if you stick to only doing what you know, or what you are good at, you may quickly find that you’re only good at one thing. We need to be agile, nimble, and interested in many different things. Otherwise, you could get stuck in a job or career you don’t love, or that goes with the times. Think of the taxi driver threatened by Uber or the customer service person replaced by a chatbot.
  7. You can go fast alone, but you can go farther together. In other words, teamwork makes the dream work. Many people claim they don’t like to work in teams, but the ability to work well in teams is vital if you want to succeed. The idea of the solo auteur is a myth; every big idea needs a team to make it happen.
  8. Worrying doesn’t achieve anything. The antidote to fear and anxiety is action and hustle. If you’re wasting time because you’re afraid to pursue an idea, speak up, or are worried what others will think of you, you won’t achieve your goals. If you push through the worry and the fear, however, and take action, you’ll almost always find that you were worried about nothing.
  9. Failure is not an end. If you give up when you fail, you’ll never learn anything. Instead, look at failure as an opportunity, as the beginning of a new journey. If you do, you’re much more likely to try again and succeed at something else.
  10. Happiness is a journey, not a destination. So many people put off their happiness; they think, “I’ll be happy when I get that job, when I lose that weight, when I’m in a relationship, when I’m out of a relationship…” and so on. But we can choose to be happy.  Happiness is a habit and a choice. No matter what your situation, if you can approach it with an attitude of happiness, you will be more successful.

What other advice would you add to this list? I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts in the comments below.

Thank you for reading my post. Here at LinkedIn and at Forbes I regularly write about management, technology and Big Data. If you would like to read my future posts then … feel free to also connect via TwitterFacebookSlideshare, and The Advanced Performance Institute.

You might also be interested in [Mr. Marr’s] new and free ebook on Big Data in Practice, which includes 3 Amazing use cases from NASA, Dominos Pizza and the NFL. You can download the ebook from here: Big Data in Practice eBook.


There were many comments, well over a thousand, but one comment jumped out at me and I’d like to include the synopsis of it: “Life is not always about us.  Make a sacrifice and do something for someone else because you want to, even if they don’t know.”  You shouldn’t need praise nor reward to help another.

The original article can be found here: “10 Important Career Lessons Most People Learn Too Late In Life”  by @BernardMarr on @LinkedIn

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  1. Chuck

    Review . . . at 78.

    RE: 10 Important Career Lessons Most People Learn Too Late in Life

    Life is short. Career change is getting out of the “comfort zone” and that is difficult to do. Often I have thought it would be advantageous to change, but… with family, income variance or moving, brings about questioning one’s abilities or educational requirements. Why do we do what we do? I fell into business management, liked it and the income was satisfactory for the time and not really knowing what other vocation would I choose or even be offered in the community where I was working, why change? When a senior in high school, a vocational aptitude test was taken, the result was strongly suggesting I should be a funeral director. Looking over my career, that would have been the field I would have excelled. So family influence did not push me in that direction, nor discussed as a choice. I went on to a well-known university, received my B.S. degree, offered a management job and the rest is history. I, in my 78 years of having a comfortable life of moderate means, do regret not pursuing the high school vocational aptitude test suggestion.

    When in our 50’s, traveling in other countries became available due to my wife’s vocation as a travel agent. At that time, travel agents were provided opportunities to expand their knowledge of places by going there, sponsored by the company. Spouses not included; however, the thrill of going to Alaska, Russia, Mexico and Ecuador, although at our own expense, was a wonderful, unforgettable experience. The point being made to take those trips, affordable at the time and not waiting until “retirement”.

    Social networks matter. I am referring to friends and coworkers at my recent employment have suggested additional means, when the current job ends, to create income. Not Facebook, Twitter or other internet connections for networking, only friends and coworkers. Couple of coworkers have suggested what they are doing and has sounded interesting, so I will and have followed up.

    Sacrificing your health for success. Really not a concern when working as far as exercise and nutrition was concerned. Now it is. Since my retirement I work out three times a week and having a companion interested in nutrition has enabled weight loss from close to 200 pounds to just about 175 pounds, added strength along with lowering my A1C.

    Success is maintaining good health; added strength, removing the possibility of becoming a diabetic and continuing a positive, optimistic outlook towards life. The Optimist Creed says the following: “To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future”. My motto for a very long time.

    There is no financial stress. I have learned to budget six months ahead, putting money into my savings account first and to maintain a cash basis for other expenses when possible.

    None of the best moments of your life will take place looking at a screen. The article states that “in our connected world, it’s tempting to let all the little screens we have access to dictate our lives. Disconnect regularly and experience real life.”

    I do not have those little screens. I make do with an ancient flip-phone and a computer.
    I am disconnected; even from television. An antenna takes the place of the dish providing me with the choice of two local networks. Weather and local news in the morning is enough.

    Taking day trips to various interesting areas around my local has been fun. When taking a picnic lunch or snacks adds to the “experiencing real life”.

    Diversity. This refers to career and learning. My career was diversified having been in chain store management, my own apparel store, insurance representative, membership sales and in a final return to retail the store manager opening a new from an empty building to the grand opening and having an outstanding personnel team in winning several company contests over a three year period. Diversity-on the other side; was my brother, who started and retired from a large computer firm. Financially, he did much better.

    My learning, too is diversified. With insurance, becoming a nsurance Counselor, Registered Health Underwriter, the National Association of Life Underwriters designation of “Life Underwriters Training Council Fellow” and taught new agents the required courses to become a “LUTCF”. Even became an “Able Toastmaster”!

    Now in these retirement years, purchasing courses from the “Great Courses” about religion, history, great books and American History is most enjoyable; problem is there are very few folks to discuss these subjects.

    My library books pertain to the civil war, biblical reference material, American and British history, great books, ancient history and philosophy. I have enough books to keep me very busy for a very long time.

    You can go fast alone, but you can go further together. “Teamwork makes the dream work” Most of my career has been solo due to the nature of the work. However, the pet store was the team experience and it worked well, winning several company contests. My staff was knowledgeable in the fish and animal departments, respectful and enthusiastic.

    Worry doesn’t achieve anything. “Worried about what other’s will think of you” or “fear and anxiety” of action or inaction has not bothered me. I just do not worry. Acceptance of the situation and the ability to change is the positive position I take. As I “mature” in retirement, I really do not care what others may think of me; keeping honesty, integrity and civility on the high road helps.

    Failure is not an end. “Look at failure as an opportunity” There has been a couple of occasions in my career where failure occurred. I just pressed on to another field and learned from the experience.

    Happiness is a journey, not a destination. “Happiness is a habit and a choice. If you can approach it with an attitude of happiness, you will be more successful.” I agree with happiness as a habit and a choice; however, it is part of the personality development at home and perhaps a gene factored into this. A happy home life, good parenting, friends, a sense of humor along with becoming an Optimist Club member has developed myself to have a better understanding of life’s roadblocks or pitfalls and not to take some things to serious.

    REFLECTION’S on career lessons learned too late in life:
    Life is indeed short; pertaining to time management, ability to travel, courage to change.
    Social networking only with friends and coworkers.
    Health is good and am enjoying the outdoors both at home and in auto trips
    Diversity of interests in learning takes time; I could easily hibernate in my library
    Worry and Failure are not a concern at this stage of my life.
    Happiness personifies me, it is who I am and is a part of my philosophy of life and creed.

    My “creed or philosophy of life” also pertains to the Optimist Creed

    Promise Yourself . . .
    • To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind
    • To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet
    • To make all your friends feel that is something in them
    • To look at the sunny side of everything and make our optimism come true
    • To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best
    • To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own
    • To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievement of the future
    • To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile
    • To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others
    • To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

    I have strongly believed the above creed. Two elements of my personal success in life are my Faith in God and in following the “Creed”.

    {This review was forwarded to my (the good DR’s) email and posted here with the writer’s permission}

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