BY BETH ENGLISH
Have you ever read advice columns?
When I was growing up, the local newspaper was a staple in our house. My brother and I would fight over the comics, especially the full-color ones in the Sunday paper. But even during the week, I found lots to enjoy in the paper. After the comics, I would scan my horoscope for fun, glance at the much-too-hard for me crossword puzzle and then go searching for the “Ask Ann Landers” column.
I think other parts of the country ran her twin sister’s column “Dear Abby.” I liked Ann, though. I can’t remember any specific questions or answers from all those years of reading. I probably read them because they were a tame soap opera of sorts. I’m sure they dealt with marriages and in-laws and other affairs of the heart.
The advice members of the bedding industry have shared in our cover story is just as captivating but wonderfully different. This advice is personal. Memorable. Effective. Inspirational.
After reading the advice people have received through the years, I began to ponder what I would consider the best advice I had ever received. I came up with two pieces of wisdom—one from a work colleague and one from my father.
When I was the editor of the alumni magazine at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, I worked closely with people in a variety of roles at the university and I learned a great deal from them all. But I’ll never forget the advice the then-director of alumni affairs gave me: “Always keep the well-being of the institution at heart when you’re faced with a tough decision. If you let that be your motivation, you won’t go wrong,” she said.
While she was talking about a university, I think the principle applies just as well to businesses. The product was education, but the institution was made up of its experiences and people. Your product may be mattresses or foams or springs, but the well-being of your company comes from safeguarding your people, brand and values.
The second piece of advice that has stayed with me came from my dad. I remember riding with him in the car as a young adult, and we were probably discussing someone I was having a hard time understanding when he came out with this gem: “You have to love people for who they are, not who you want them to be.”
I have no idea if he was quoting someone else. But that little comment has remained with me for years. It has helped guide me through tricky work relationships, friendships and, of course, family dynamics. It has made me pause and celebrate people’s outstanding qualities instead of bemoaning those they lack. Yes, there are probably a lot of ways we and the people in our lives can improve, but there’s much to appreciate already.
So, what about you? Have you received any words of wisdom that have shaped your life? I’d love to hear from you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.