In conversation with… Best advice from the Q&A

We’ve been running our Q&A feature for many years now. So we thought it was about time to look over what we’ve learned from the many talented professionals we’ve chatted to.

Here are their top 5 career advice that reappeared time and again in our interviews:

1. The importance of self-acceptance

Separating our self-worth from our work can help our health and careers. Negative self-judgment can undermine job performance and increase stress, whereas self-compassion—showing kindness and compassion toward yourself during job challenges, personal shortcomings and professional setbacks—is vital for both a long and successful career and home life.

“I recently completed my 200-hour Baptiste-affiliated yoga teacher training, one of the most impactful concepts I walked away with is: “You are perfect, you may have just forgotten.” Self-love and acceptance are sometimes difficult for me to show up with, but knowing that everyone (including me) is perfect, whole, and does not need fixing, is an amazing thing. This shows up in the workplace for me when I take on challenging projects, present to large groups, or interview for a new role. Instead of just believing I’m capable, actually knowing that I’m capable, is something I’ve had to work towards in my life and at my job.” / Jaclyn Kirkman

“Whatever you decide you need to be happy with it before anyone else”. She believed that the last person you want to disappoint is yourself – as you have to live with it long after everyone else has forgotten.” / Nana Crawford

2. The importance of work-life balance

The pressure of an increasingly demanding work culture is one of the biggest challenges to society’s mental health. It’s essential to find a good balance between your job and your personal life. Not only is this great for your well-being, but it also ensures you’re getting the best out of both aspects of your life.

“You can’t be helpful to everyone. There’s a tipping point if you keep saying yes, when you then end up not doing anything well.” /Helen Spencer

“Pay attention to the things and people that matter the most. It’s so easy in life to get swept up in emails, PowerPoints, and everything else we’re told is important. But as you get older you realise just how precious – and limited – time is, and that you should spend as much of your time as possible doing the things you love with the people you love spending time with.” / John Sills

3. The importance of upskilling

The world is changing quickly, and with it, the future of work. Even if you’re highly trained and educated, you’ll need to constantly develop your skills to keep up with the changes in your industry and further your career.

“Strive to be as honest and transparent as you can. I believe this works both ways – if you can be yourself at work you will more readily get the support you need. You have nothing to gain from not openly expressing your needs.” / Adam Mills

“Work for your CV – not your boss”. I think that approach fosters a sense of personal responsibility, and engenders curiosity alongside the need for determined grit. It means that we should each proactively look at and understand the gaps we have in our own CVs. – being aware of, and actively addressing and improving, any skillsets you feel you lack. Know enough to be dangerous. The other advice from my first boss – start pension saving early. You will be grateful one day.” / Kate Mackie

4. The importance of managing ambiguity

The pandemic taught us all this the hard way. When the only thing we can be certain of is more uncertainty going forward, then you need to build a long-term career plan that maximizes your flexibility, adaptability and alternative options.

“Careers are marathons, not sprints, and sometimes you have to go sideways or even backwards to go forward. Also, commit to life-long learning.” / Joe Rice

“I’m a self-confessed control freak. But we know control doesn’t really exist – it’s an illusion. In reality, you can only control how you react to things and not why or how they happen. I think we all need to be comfortable with adapting to unpredictability. The first step is to see change as a positive; an opportunity to cast off old skin, to optimise and do things better.” / Kate Mackie

5. The importance of side-hustles

Your career can paradoxically be enhanced by what you do outside of it. A side hustle can give you more freedom, flexibility and let you try new things – allowing you to bring that energy and creativity into your full-time job. 

“If you have been gifted a passion, lucky you – follow it. For the rest of us, we all have curiosity. Follow your curiosity.  This makes life interesting and enjoyable.” / Ed Smith

“I was thinking about how I could build my CV to really stand out at the same time. I had this inkling that I needed to become more appealing to employers to pursue what I wanted further ahead. So, I did a master’s degree in design at St Martin’s College. I can’t begin to say how many people responded by referencing Pulp’s Disco 2000! But it was well worth it: I had a great time and employers loved that I had the grit and determination to balance my first, full-time job with further studies. I’ve always thought that was a springboard for the career I have today.” / Louise McLaren

“There have been several professional highlights but I’m most proud of taking a few years off from the traditional career path to do humanitarian work. Those years certainly helped me put things in perspective.” / Joe Rice

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