If you want to grow your career (and really, who doesn’t?), there’s no shortage of folks who will offer their counsel.
But that’s the problem: everyone has an opinion, and advice is everywhere. It can be tough to discern helpful guidance from the not-so-helpful, wheel-spinning stuff. The difference often comes down to the source.
Here are three questions to determine which people to listen to (and who to ignore) for career growth:
1. Has this person achieved the success I want to create in my own life?
There’s an excellent Glennon Doyle quote that reminds us to “stop asking people for directions to places they’ve never been.” It’s easy for people to tell you what you should do, but if someone hasn’t been where you want to be or done what you want to do, think twice before following their advice.
On the other hand, if you’re willing to trade places with someone, that’s a pretty good indicator that you can learn from their roadmap and adapt it for your journey.
2. Does my association with this person help me or hold me back?
An early mentor to Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn famously said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend time with.”
Rohn’s assertion was rooted in the law of averages, which is the theory that the result of any given situation will be the average of all outcomes and suggests that the five people you’re around the most shape you.
Said another way, when you’re trying to grow into the person you hope to be, it’s helpful to surround yourself with people who demonstrate those qualities you aspire to achieve. These people might include mentors from whom you can learn new skills, colleagues who cheer you on when you get discouraged, or friends who hold you accountable to your goals. Having positive, encouraging people in your “top five” who lift you up and support your dreams will dramatically improve your chances for success; listen to them.
Conversely, if your inner circle contains negative people threatened by your choices, success, and drive, you’ll have a much harder time trying to make — let alone maintain—significant change. Avoid these people.
3. Is this person invested in my success?
There’s a difference between receiving recommendations from those you trust who know you well and are rooting for you and someone without any knowledge of or desire for your success.
One of the most important kinds of counsel to seek comes from those invested in your success, even if they haven’t excelled in your chosen area. If you allow them to, they can offer an alternate perspective and serve as a sounding board, playing devil’s advocate when necessary, asking you probing questions to bring you greater clarity. They also serve as the perfect accountability partners because these truth-tellers will always keep it real and stand by you through thick and thin.
As Brené Brown famously said: “If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”