Friday, October 20, 2023

Insight: An accumulation of helpful advice

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

Now that I’m older, everyone seems to assume that as we age, we suddenly become wiser. While that may be the case for some individuals, I’ve found that many others appear to regress in wisdom and common sense in later years. It really all depends upon the person.

Through the years, I’ve been fortunate to have been given some excellent practical advice that I’ve used successfully throughout my life’s journey and without reservation, I offer some of that advice to you here.
Change can be beneficial

After years of doing a layout and design job at a daily newspaper, I was asked by my supervisor to move my desk and change my duties to another responsibility. At first, I thought it was demeaning having to learn a new job when I was so good at my previous assignment. But he advised me that I needed to be flexible and see what would happen. Ultimately, I found the new tasks I was working on were challenging and interesting and I embraced my new role. Soon it led to a promotion, a pay increase and put me on a path in my career to a leadership position. Change is inevitable for all of us and through personal experience, I can attest that’s it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Multiple solutions for every problem

When I was serving in the U.S. Air Force, I recall being told that the best way to resolve problems is to explore multiple solutions, choose one and then to go back later and follow up to identify if the solution I chose worked the best for that problem. Through that process, I learned that my first choice wasn’t always the best way to fix a problem. Sometimes complex issues require simple solutions, while other times further effort and a different approach is needed. The method of examining problems has left me more rational and able to look at situations objectively when exploring potential solutions to problems.

You can’t please everyone

As a newspaper editor, I’ve found that every reader has a different opinion and that no matter how hard we may try, it’s impossible to please everyone. Instead of focusing on negativity, I prefer to dwell on achievements and accomplishments and the positive aspects of our work. I’ve learned that in the profession of journalism, no matter how much you strive for perfection, somebody will always find something they dislike about your product. I try to take that into account, not make the same mistake twice and continue moving forward.

It’s not always about you

Playing the safety position on the Junior Varsity football team at Rush-Henrietta High School in September 1969, I spent a lot of time holding a tackling dummy in the defensive backfield during practices as the team’s offense worked on learning plays. It wasn’t the most glorious way to spend a fall afternoon, and when I asked my coach, Rocky Valentine, what the purpose of me standing there holding a tackling dummy was. He told me, “Mr. Pierce, it’s not always about you.” Later that same afternoon, the team’s offensive linemen started blocking those of us holding tackling dummies in the defensive backfield. I quickly learned that football practices are highly organized and it’s best to leave the thinking to the coaching staff.

Never make assumptions

I once asked an 88-year-old man visiting our office how far along a 16-year-old pregnant girl who had accompanied him there was. I assumed she was his granddaughter when I asked that question. He snarled when he told me that the pregnant girl was his new wife. I returned to my office totally embarrassed and decided it probably wasn’t very wise for me to make assumptions about people based upon their looks.

Better to be safe than sorry

When renting a home in New Hampshire a few years back, my wife called me while I was covering a meeting on a winter evening one night and told me she smelled a funny odor in the house. I asked her to call the landlord and evacuate the house until we could figure out what was producing the smell. Apparently, the propane in the tank was empty and needed to be refilled. Everything turned out OK, but it could have been much worse. From that point on, I decided to monitor the propane tank contents carefully and keep the tank filled properly to avoid potentially dangerous situations like that in the future.

Learn from a mistake

My father would always tell me that it’s human to make mistakes, but he found that those who are successful try hard to not make the same mistake a second time. I have carried that with me to this very day and believe that each mistake that we make is an opportunity for growth and learning. My dad encouraged me to seek out whatever lessons could be learned from making a mistake and to try and remember that when I encountered similar situations down the road.

The purpose of asking for advice is to seek guidance when we are unsure about something. The choice to accept advice remains entirely up to us as individuals. <

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