What's the worst mistake you've ever made? You probably find value in your mistakes and failures, but don't forget to learn from others' mistakes, too.

That's one reason professional mentors are so important, to learn from someone who's already blazed the trail.  But sometimes we get so caught up seeking "official" advice that we forget about one of the most valuable resources of our lifetime: our parents.

Really. Good ol' mom and dad, or grandma and grandpa--when was the last time you considered the advice you may have heard, and probably ignored, from your very own family? My guess is there's a wealth of inspiration and wisdom tucked away in childhood memories that may come in handy as you make the difficult choices associated with running a business and enjoying your life.

I was glad to see that LinkedIn's top influencers realized this when they responded to a recent query: What is the best advice you ever got? According to LinkedIn editor Francesca Levy, nearly a third of these influencers carry around wisdom from an older family member.

There's incredible value in these insights, as we see how family advice shaped the character and influenced decisions for these global leaders. Here are a few that stood out to me. I invite you to add your own family's words of wisdom to the comments section below.

T. Boone Pickens, Founder, Chairman and CEO at BP Capital and TBP Investments Management

If I had to single out one piece of advice that's guided me through life, it would be from my grandmother, Nellie Molonson. She always made a point of making sure I understood that on the road to success, there's no point in blaming others when you fail. Here's how she put it:

"Sonny, I don't care who you are. Some day you're going to have to sit on your own bottom."

Richard Branson, Founder at Virgin Group

The best advice I ever received? Simple: Have no regrets. Who gave me the advice? Mum's the word.

If you asked every person in the world who gave them their best advice, it is a safe bet that most would say it was their mother. I am no exception. My mother has taught me many valuable lessons that have helped shape my life. But having no regrets stands out above all others, because it has informed every aspect of my life and every business decision we have ever made.

Martha Stewart, Founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

The best advice I've ever received was from my father when I was 12 years old and willing to listen. He told me that with my personal characteristics, I could, if I set my mind to it, do anything I chose. This advice instilled in me a great sense of confidence, and despite the fact that sometimes I was a little nervous, I stepped out and did what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. I think it is often up to the parents to help build confidence in their children. It is a very necessary part of growing up.

Brad Smith, President  & Chief Executive Officer, Intuit

The best advice I ever received was from my dad. Unfortunately I didn't always follow it, but when I did his wisdom changed the course of my life for the better.

As I was finishing college I was also facing a "make or break" decision, agonizing between two job offers I had received. Dad sat me down to give me a few pointers about choosing the best course. He advised me that choosing the right job was not a sudden lightning bolt of realization, nor was it usually something we knew we wanted to do since we were kids (oh, how I envied those kids who did.) Rather, it was a process of trial and error--a voyage of discovery.

Smith's father offered him four simple guideposts to identify if he was on the best path:

  • Do what makes your heart beat the fastest
  • Surround yourself with people smarter than you
  • Volunteer for assignments no one else wants
  • Make sure you can pay your bills

Finally, Smith cites one of Mark Twain's famous quotes as a reminder to all of us to value the wisdom passed down to us from our parents:

"When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."

Published on: Mar 11, 2013
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.