Discussion Thread

  • 1.  Memorable Advice

    Posted 03-22-2021 09:13 AM
    On an ASCE Thursdays @ 3 a few weeks ago I quoted one of my mentors a few times. Since then I've thought about a couple other pieces of advice from mentors in my life that have stuck with me. Below are just a couple examples that came to mind.

    What is a piece of advice from a mentor that has stuck with you?

    The one I mentioned on the call a few weeks ago was​ about coworker relationships. He often says that we spend more waking hours with each other than with our families, so we'd better like each other. That attitude has permeated our group, and my coworkers are some of my closest friends.

    Another piece of advice that came from my mom was that intelligence isn't something that makes you better than others; it is a tool to be used to help those around you. I think that mindset is part of the reason I ended up in civil engineering.

    I'd love to hear any examples you have of advice that has stayed with you or made an impact in your life!

    Heidi Wallace EI, P.E., M.ASCE
    Tulsa OK

  • 2.  RE: Memorable Advice

    Posted 03-22-2021 04:08 PM
    @Heidi Wallace,
    Great topic!
    Over the years, I have been mentored/coached by several people who have all helped me get to where I am today.​ Here is some advice I received that really impacted me:
    • "It's not a mistake unless you make it twice." - This taught me that making mistakes isn't the end of the world, that they are learning opportunities, and as long as you are not repeating those mistakes, you are improving as an engineer.
    • "Make this catch" - A football coach taught  me the power of positive thinking. On game day, he would always tell the players "Make this play", "You're faster than that guy", or "Go win this game", rather than saying "Don't drop this ball", "That guy is better than you", or "Don't blow the game."  He would tell us the positive outcomes he wanted us to visualize and execute. The point being that the more positively you think, the more positive outcomes you will achieve.
    • "You don't have to know the answer, but you have to know who does" - This was how a former manager expressed to me the importance of knowing your team, and their strengths and weaknesses. His point was that o matter how good you think you are at your job, there is no way you will know everything, and the best way to progress as an engineer, is to learn from your team, and share your knowledge with your team. This makes you better, and it makes the team better. 

    Doug Cantrell P.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Durham NC

  • 3.  RE: Memorable Advice

    Posted 03-24-2021 09:21 AM
    It sounds like you've had some great mentors/coaches!
    As someone that has struggled throughout my academic and professional career with beating myself up over perceived mistakes, I especially love the first one you listed. What a great perspective

    Heidi C. Wallace, P.E., M.ASCE
    Tulsa, OK

  • 4.  RE: Memorable Advice

    Posted 03-22-2021 07:50 PM
    Something that I picked up from one of my industry colleagues late in my career was the aphorism "not to the perfect be the enemy of the good." There are times when perfection is required but many times good is acceptable. Recognizing when good is good enough allows one to save energy and earned capital for times when it really matters. When used in a discussion, at the risk of sounding trite, the aphorism can be quite effective in reeling in a discussion or approach that has gone astray.

    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX

  • 5.  RE: Memorable Advice

    Posted 03-29-2021 09:31 AM
    I'm terrible at remembering any specific words of advice I've heard from those around me, particularly when the question is asked directly. However, here are a few things that have stayed in my mind over the years.

    1. (Professional) I had a college professor who also works as a consulting engineer. I expressed to him some concerns once about being interested in a phd, but being worried that I wouldn't be able to find a job once I got a phd. Conversely, I was worried that if I got a job after undergrad, I wouldn't have time to go back for an advanced degree.
    He helped encourage me to pursue an advanced degree (a masters) by sharing his thoughts on employers, saying "if a company isn't going to appreciate you for what you learn in graduate school, then I wouldn't want to work for them anyway."

    2. (Personal) As simple as it sounds, my mom's advice of "Be nice to everyone you meet" has been instrumental in how I try to live and associate with those around me. Similarly, my dad would always encourage me to "go out and try things". This was consistent encouragement to not be afraid to pursue new directions in life.  

    3. Finally, two more things from books I've read. One was for kids, and one was for adults. 

    The first was a quote I read when I was about 14 years old, in the book Eragon by Christopher Paolini. "Follow those who seek the truth, but beware those who claim to have found it". I always took this to mean "associate with those who are curious about the world around them and wish to explore the things they want to know more about, and avoid those who feel they know it all already."

    The second quote was from "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. To paraphrase this exceptional book "Ultimately the meaning in one's life is the meaning that one assigns to it oneself."


    Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer