As I set out to write my post on the best piece of professional advice I’ve ever received, I found myself in quite the dilemma. After a little trip down memory lane – replaying conversations with professors, family members, colleagues, and the remainder of my ‘Influential People’ roster – I decided I was faced with a near impossible task.  How could I possibly narrow down the many words of wisdom I’ve been fortunate enough to receive to just one standout piece of advice? Impossible, I tell you. Impossible.

So, rather, I’ve altered this post to reflect the three best pieces of professional advice that I’ve ever received. Because, well, I think they’re all pretty stellar:

Talent may get you in the door, but character lets you stick around. Whether you are fresh out of college and new to the job market, or you consider yourself an ‘old pro’ looking for a career change, there seems to be a few universal ideas that surround the infamous job hunt: It’s all about the degree, the networking, and showing off that perfectly-tailored skillset. While the merited piece of paper and your exceptional skillset may land you the job, your character can actually make the difference as to whether your new employer keeps you around – or gives you the boot.  Let’s face it: No one wants to work with a Negative Nancy or a Know-It-All — or worse. As I was once told, make sure you invest as much into your character as you have into your education and training.  After all, it’s your character that takes you places.

Bite off more than you can chew…and then chew it.  Ahh. Wise words from a college professor.  In a world where we find ourselves being pulled every which way – be it raising a family, climbing the ladder at work, or simply juggling the everyday demands of life – we are often guilty of falling victim to excuses. Maybe we didn’t go for that promotion out of fear of the extra responsibility, or we didn’t volunteer to take on that extra task at work because a colleague “probably” had more time to complete it. Truth be told, we don’t advance ourselves by sitting back and watching others go the extra mile.  I’m grateful to have been reminded that there is no harm in taking on more than what we think we’re capable of.  Oftentimes, that’s the only way we discover our true potential.

When you stop learning, you stop growing. As a young professional, I strive to absorb all that I can from those who offer years of knowledge and experience.  However, perhaps the most valued thing I have learned from any of these individuals is that they have yet to stop learning.  No matter how many years of experience you may have under your belt, the moment that your mindset is altered to embrace only what you already know, as opposed to what you have yet to discover, is the moment that you stop growing – both personally and professionally.  While my career has only just begun, I plan to hold on to this piece of advice for the long haul.

What are some of your favorite pieces of professional advice? We’d love to hear!