(1) If your job was meant to be easy, then we wouldn't have hired you.
(2) Ask more, work less.
Both these advices sticked with me, and have also been my guiding principles for many years to come.
The first advice was something I will remind myself whenever there is a huge obstacles. Uncooperative Operations people who believe that my solution was a worthless piece of thrash, based on their experience. Getting hammered by the client on my first formal presentation. Squeezed between office politics. I constantly have to remind myself that my work was not meant to be easy - even if someone else was in my shoes, he might have landed up in the same sh*thole. This advice helped me kept my sanity whenever things don't go my way - I only lost my temper no more than twice throughout my 6+ years in the company.
The second piece of advice (Ask more, work less) was something that I consistently apply in both work and personal life. As a newbie, I have spent months working on something that I thought was what my boss wanted, only to realise that I have wasted so much time via my "clever" misinterpretation. I learnt that to be efficient, I needed constant communication. Do not be afraid to clarify. Do not be afraid to initiate meetings and presentations. Do not assume that you are an irritating pest (even though deep down inside, you may feel otherwise).
A few months ago, I was having some problem with my Starhub Cable TV.
The cable TV controller sometimes doesn't work, and I have to use the limited buttons on the Cable box to change TV channels, record shows etc... It was an inconvenience I had to live with for these few months because I couldn't find time to bring down the set for a 1-to-1 exchange. Today, I finally decided to bring the box down to the service centre, where I expect to wait hours before I get served. So I gave a call to the Customer Service Centre, to ask what documents I have to bring down (so I don't have to do a wasted trip). I was asked what the malfunction was, and after I described to him, the friendly guy over the phone asked me to get my "spoiled" controller, and press a particular button. And my god-damn problem was solved. I thanked him, all the while wondering why I didn't ask earlier. Ask more, work less!
Someday, I will grow to be an old bird with plenty of one-liner advices. I'm still collecting knowledge, but also learning to share what I have been through.
Maybe I should go reside on a mountain 30 years from now, and tons of young noobs will be scaling the heights to get me for my invaluable advice. =p
To end this post, here's an epic quote from Greek philosopher Epictetus (pun intended).
We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.