Best Advice I’ve Ever Received

I listened and acted and was thankful for it. Some words I still hold on to that brought me to better places at certain turning points in my life. Also pithy advice that memory snaps up just when I need it.
  1. 1.
    Be based in a developing country if you want to build a career in development work. (From a UP Diliman batchmate who also studied in Europe for her Masters, and was with UNDP Nepal at the time. Advice I took seriously that later helped me make the switch from Amsterdam to Dili.)
  2. 2.
    Dress smartly when going to the airport. (From my stepmom. I was starting to travel often for work and I suppose she didn't want me to be mistaken at the airport for our compatriots who do domestic work abroad.)
  3. 3.
    People don't really change, so don't expect them to. They change when they decide to, and when they're ready. (From my favorite flatmate in Amsterdam and ISS batchmate. This is true from what I know about a few loved ones who can be difficult occasionally. Societies change over time, but individuals, at their very core, rarely do.)
  4. 4.
    Work hard, be kind. (Conan O'Brien's farewell message on The Tonight Show. He didn't say this to me personally, but it's something I try to remember in my working life.)
  5. 5.
    Don't pass the monkey. (From our regional director. Don't shift problems up to management. Settle it as much as you can at your level. Something I've told a few colleagues too, though sometimes I have to explain the metaphor.)
  6. 6.
    If it's meant for you, if you want it that much, claim it! Think of it as if you already have it. (We've read variations of this somewhere online, and I have friends who believe in what's written in 'The Secret.' But this is something I've told myself too, and things have turned out better.)
  7. 7.
    Practice kindness. Do no harm. See it from the other perspective. (From Pico Iyer's book on the Dalai Lama, 'The Open Road,' on what Buddhism is essentially about. Helped me learn to lean into times of discomfort, and to live a little easier as a result.)