Best Advice: Value Experiences and Relationships Over Money or Success
In this series, professionals share the words of wisdom that made all the difference in their lives. Follow the stories here and write your own (please include the hashtag #BestAdvice in the body of your post).
When it comes to advice, people most often turn to words. There’s a million adages out there:
“Look before you leap.”
“If you don’t ask, you don’t get it.”
“Better late than never.”
I’ll admit, these are all great pieces of advice, and typically true, but words only weigh so much. For me, my most influential advice came in a different form: that voice in my gut, which I suppose can best be defined as intuition.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a distinct feeling that I could pursue anything I wanted to do in life. Whether it was build a fire pit in my backyard, learn Photoshop on my own, or create a business from a spur-of-the-moment idea, if it felt important and valuable in my gut, I went after it. I never gave myself time to second-guess the decision or fight the voice; action led to me to accomplishment, so why wouldn’t I listen?
There’s truly something to be said about intuition; it understands what you want before your brain counteracts with practicality and logic. More important, when imagining pursuits, I visualized achievement instead of barriers. No one said the road to success is without bumps; I accepted that knowledge and understood it was all part of the journey. You could say I crossed each bridge when I came to it. (Hey, there’s some good advice!)
Of course, to say I got to where I am today based entirely on following my gut would be a huge stretch. There’s a lot of inspiring people out there with great stories; learning from them has played a big role in shaping my path. If I were to name the most important lesson I’ve culled from others over the years, it’s to value experiences and relationships over financial gain or career success. In a culture that measures professional accomplishment by means of titles and salaries, this isn’t always easy. However, in my life, I’ve found a much deeper fulfillment through new experiences and relationships, which, ultimately, end up influencing and benefitting nearly every decision I make as a professional. The end goal of personal prosperity shouldn’t be about earning a fancy title and six figures. I promise, a sense of satisfaction in how you live and who surrounds you in your every day is much more gratifying. The crazy thing? When you shift your focus, financial gain and career success often follow naturally.
To be fair, I’ve definitely received memorable words of wisdom that I’ve carried with me through the years. The piece of advice I hold closest is this: Figure out the one thing that differentiates you as a business, become the best at it, and outsource the rest. When Threadless hit its stride with T-shirts, we expanded our product line into premium clothing, home decor, accessories, and more, and I quickly realized there’s a real truth in spreading yourself too thin. We’ve since scaled back to the basics, seeking more outside help with necessary processes as we see fit, and the benefits are tenfold. Always keep in mind the root of your business, and the real reason you began and became successful in the first place. Most of the time, that’s what your customers want from you. And if you provide that for them as best and authentically as you can, your competitors will always pale in comparison.
In the end, I do believe intuition is my wisest companion, yet I’ve been truly lucky to receive valuable advice in many forms. But it's also your intuition that helps you decide which bits of advice to follow.
In my every day, I believe the following: Trust your gut, let it guide you, and maintain confidence in yourself and your decisions. Fill your time with motivating people and your surroundings with inspiring ideas. Set goals with intention, and for the right reasons. Relish in the journey. Finally, remember why your company, product, personal mission, or whatever it is you’re offering the world is unique. It’s a cluttered place out there, but that doesn’t mean your bit can’t take the lead. Stand behind your work and believe in it. Success, in whatever form you seek it, will come.