The One Thing That Changed Your Life Professionally

How A Few Internet Comments Keep Me On A Path Of Continual Improvement

Every morning, after publishing this newsletter, I browse a number of industry blogs, websites, and forums. It’s part of the routine I’ve created for myself before I dive into my normal work activities like emails and meetings. 

I would imagine you have a similar routine of doing something passive before starting your workday.

One website that I check multiple times per day is called HackerNews. While the name might sound cool, just know that it is basically a community forum for people in the tech industry who are mostly engineers, designers, or startup founders.

A few months back, I came across one thread that had a lot of insightful ideas and perspectives. I found it so interesting that I’ve kept it up as a tab (one of many) that I revisit every few weeks to remind myself of some relevant lessons.

The thread, titled “Name one idea that changed your life,” received 1,084 upvotes, each of which represents favorable feedback from that number of people. In it, people comment on random ideas and simple concepts that have helped them in their life, personally and professionally.

Here is a small list of simple ideas that have ‘changed people’s lives’:

  • The Growth Mindset: Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts)

  • If you don’t put something into words, either in speech or in your head or on paper, you don’t know anything about it.

  • No one is thinking about you. That stupid thing you said in the meeting, the thing you did in middle school, that pimple on your face that feels huge. It's entirely in our mind and everyone else is too focused on themselves to ever see or think about the silly things you're embarrassed about.

  • A quote from Lincoln that reminds me of how to shed biases and prejudices: "I hate that man. I must get to know him better".

  • Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard

While some of these ideas may or may not resonate with you, I’m sure others that were listed among the long list of comments will.

The reason that I write about this topic today is that we all need to be reminded regularly of the core set of values, ideas, and themes that directly impact us, either positively or negatively, in our professional lives. 

It could be about how we think people perceive us, how we view our own self-worth or ability, or simply how we choose to present ourselves to our coworkers, bosses, or customers.

I find myself reading through the comments of this thread as some form of encouragement to find new ways to bring my best self out professionally. What I would suggest is that you make a list, even if it’s just a mental note, of the core values that you guide your professional/personal life by.

For me, the growth mindset, the idea that people aren’t really judging me as much as I think they are, and the need to be kind to others are core things I think about regularly. What’s yours?