I would share three bits of advice that have guided me and served me well in my life.
1. Always do your best.
When you do your best, you will be proud of yourself. Being proud of yourself increases your self-confidence. I believe that self-confidence is an important key to success, in your career and in your life.
Beware however: doing your best means that you are laying it on the line. When you do your best, you know that you have no one but yourself to blame if things don’t work out like you want.
2. Treat everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve as human beings.
Next, every person you meet is entitled to your respect – just because he or she is a fellow human being. The 1970s song “Every Day People” by Sly and The Family Stone says it well. “I am no better and neither are you. We are the same whatever we do.” As human beings we are united by our shared humanity. This shared humanity is more important than race, gender, religion, sexual preference or any of the other artificial differences that people use to drive us apart, rather than being us together.
I choose to treat all of the people I meet with dignity and respect. I do this for the simple reason that they are fellow human beings and as such, are entitled to it.
There are opportunities to do this every day. Smile at the Starbucks barrista and say please and thank you. Realize that the telemarketer who calls at dinner time is probably somebody really struggling to make ends meet. Treat him or her with respect. Don’t just hang up. Listen for a few seconds and then politely ask that you be removed from the list. Be pleasant with the customer service representative when you are calling to report a problem.
If you do this, two things will happen. You’ll be much more likely to get what you want. More importantly, you’ll brighten up someone else’s day. And to me, this is reward enough.
3. Help others with no strings attached.
Finally, be helpful. Give to others with no expectation of getting anything in return. You’ll be creating a win-win situation. You will feel better about yourself, and other people will benefit from the help you give them.
Too many people live their lives in a quid pro quo world. You do for me, and I’ll do for you. While I think it is always appropriate to repay a favor, I also think that expecting something in return for a favor just sets you up for resentment. Some people are not in a position to repay a favor. Others don’t always realize that you’ve gone out of your way to help them. Others just don’t care they take what they can get and never think about helping someone else. Still others might repay your favor by helping someone else.
It doesn’t matter if you never get repaid. What matters is that you are willing to help others. You’ll feel better about yourself for this, and you’ll be creating some positive karma. Ironically, when you help others with no expectation of return, you’ll be surprised by how often others will help you out.
When you help others, you build your self confidence and you help others achieve their goals. A world in which most people are able to meet their goals is a better, happier, healthier world. So give with no expectation of return. You’ll probably be rewarded for your generosity. But more importantly, you’ll be doing your part to make this world just a little bit better.