Google+

BBC Capital

Influencers

Can a poem contain all the career advice you need?

A poem reveals life's best advice, says Angela Ahrendts. (Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

A poem reveals life's best advice, according to Burberry CEO, Angela Ahrendts. (Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

In life there are little nuggets of advice that make all the difference — tidbits of wisdom and guidance from someone you trust that stick with you for the rest of your days.

But have you ever stopped to think about the single best piece of advice you’ve ever received when it comes  to your career?

LinkedIn asked its Influencers to do just that. From insights on being fully in the game , to never giving up, to a single poem that encapsulates a lifetime of lessons, the morsels of encouragement that these executives use every day can be useful to anyone.

Here’s what a few of them had to say.

Tony Fernandes, group chief executive officer at AirAsia

“The year was 1992. I was 28 at the time and I had just made managing director of Warner Music Malaysia… But that wasn’t enough for me,” wrote Fernandes in his post Best Advice: Slow Down. “I wanted to be regional managing director. I wanted to take over the world, and I guess it showed.”

One night an executive at the company took Fernandes aside for a chat. “I still remember what he (Stephen Shrimpton, who was then senior vice president of Warner Music Asia Pacific ) told me then, even after all these years: ‘learn to take things slow’,” wrote Fernandes.

The point, he wrote, was that “there’s no need to rush” and that it was more important to take the time to develop “my own personality and [make] sure I’m ready for the next job.”

It’s advice Fernandes has taken to heart, he wrote.  “No matter how bright someone is, nothing beats experience. And that takes time. There is no quick fix, no five easy steps.”

Going slow can help avoid embarrassing pitfalls, especially for entrepreneurs, wrote Fernandes, whose airline has grown from two aircraft to a planned 150. “I’m glad we didn’t rush things because now we have a solid foundation,” he wrote. “While it may not seem the quickest route to where you want to be, going slow is the best way to get ahead.”

Angela Ahrendts, chief executive officer at Burberry

Can a single poem offer all the advice one needs for life and for work? Ahrendts believes the answer is yes. In her post Best Advice: This Poem Tells You Everything You Need to Live, she wrote, “its profound principles subliminally shaped and defined my core and have guided me throughout my life.”

The poem: The Desiderata. Ahrendts first saw it framed on the wall of her father’s office when she was a teenager. “At the time, I repeated the words without reflection, unconcerned by their meaning,” she wrote. “But with perspective, I know these simple truths helped form the fabric of my leadership, inspiring me and reminding me of my place and my purpose.”

An excerpt: “Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.”

“Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

“Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.”

Gurbaksh Chahal, chairman and chief executive officer at RadiumOne

“It was October 27, 1997. I remember it as if it was yesterday. My family’s dream home was already half built. It was to be our escape from the small, cramped house in the projects that I shared with my parents, my paternal grandmother and three siblings,” wrote Chahal in his post Best Advice: Never Give Up. “Then the stock market crashed.”

“The NYSE plummeted 550 points and trading was halted early. My father was devastated. He had bought stock on margin — a lot of stock — and had lost everything. Worst still, he was going to lose money he didn’t even have,” wrote Chahal. “At the dinner table that night he broke the news that the dream move to a new house in the suburbs was not going to happen.”

His father announced that in the morning, he would sell everything — the family would be left with nothing, but they would at least not be in debt, he wrote. Right after he did, the market recovered. “If he had just waited an hour, he would have recouped most of his losses, enabling the move into the new home to go ahead. Now, that couldn’t happen,” wrote Chahal.

Chahal’s father, never emotional, broke down sobbing in front of the entire family. “He seemed defeated and I was terrified for him,” he wrote. “Just a few days later, though, a remarkable transformation occurred. With no explanation whatsoever my father snapped out of his depression and declared to us all, ‘One way or another, we are going to move into that new house’,” Chahal recalled.

“That resilience and determination would forever be ingrained in my thinking and instrumental in the way I have conducted myself personally and professionally. The lesson was clear: Never give up,” he wrote.

Chahal’s father rallied the family, worked overtime, cut other expenses, sold a car and television and had some family members take on part-time jobs.My father pulled himself together and inspired us to follow his lead and not give up. He constantly reassured us that we were going to be all right,” wrote Chahal. “Sure enough we raised enough money, sold the house in the projects and moved out and up in the world.”

What is the best advice you've ever received? Who did it come from and how has it helped you? Share your story on our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.