Don’t Keep Your Head Down

Positively Horrible, Horrible Advice: Keep Your Head Down.

Two questions:

  1. Do you like lists? I sure do, but I’m not a big fan of advice or to do lists expressed as a negative, as in Top Ten Ways to Make Sure You Don’t Get Promoted or Do These Five Things to Ruin Your Relationship. See, there’s this whole grammar thing about double negatives and it just adds a whole ‘nother level of processing the actual meaning of each statement. Should I do this thing… or not do this thing… or not not do this thing, or not do the opposite of this…?
  2. Have you received bad advice… whether well-meaning or actual sabotage?

With this in mind, I have also been on the receiving end of some horrible advice. I’d like to share one such item now and I promise that when you’re done reading this, you won’t be tangled up in multiple negatives.

Horrible, horrible advice to the young me on the new job: “Just Keep Your Head Down.”

Why? So nobody knows I’m there? So I won’t get credit for my contributions? So I can’t stake claim to my role in strengthening my team?

Better advice: Be yourself. Just be who you are, always working on improving.

Make sure people in your department and on your team know who you are, that you’re a three-dimensional person with talents and your own unique skill set. Hey, if you’re humble, be humble. If you’re flashy, then flash forward.

Be sure to praise highly and acknowledge that while you may still have plenty to learn, you’re not afraid to ask questions and try new things. This might just be why you were brought on board in the first place. Go beyond your comfort zone, where it’s still safe.

What do you think of that? What’s the worst advice you’ve received, and how long did it take until you realized how awful it was?


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