Ask for advice

"Do you have any advice?"

Whether you are struggling with a dilemma large or small, it's really helpful to ask that question to people outside the challenging situation.

I have a super-smart friend whose policy is to not give unsolicited advice (which I really admire). I have learned to ask for it. She has helped me in huge ways, from dealing with parenting challenges to struggles at work. I recently told her that next year I want to be more formal about my side business as a speaker, but I wasn't sure how to set my goals. Is it about revenue? Impact? Number of blog subscribers? Number of speeches? I asked her for advice, thinking she would suggest what type of metric would be most meaningful, knowing me as well as she does. Instead she said, "Put yourself in the future ten years and look at your business. What does it look like? What makes you most proud? Satisfied? Then create the steps to get there." Thank goodness she didn't give me the type of advice I was expecting, but instead the type of advice I needed.

And thank goodness I listened and actually heard what she said. I used to immediately respond to advice (particularly advice I didn't ask for) with a rebuttal or an explanation of why it wouldn't work. Of course, there is no use asking for advice if you won't listen to it. Work hard to open to your ears and your heart to whatever the person is saying. They may tell you they don't think you're handling a situation correctly or point out the way you are contributing to the challenge you're facing. What they say could hurt. But it could also help. And if you are defensive, you won't hear it. You might damage the relationship. And you certainly will damage the chances of getting good advice from them again.

However, the emphasis is on listening, not necessarily following the advice. You might get some bad advice. You might get advice that really won't work for a particular situation. Your goal should be to listen to the advice and to consider it thoughtfully. You might even want to ask a few people for advice if the situation is really big and really challenging. Just make sure you're not just asking a bunch of people in the hopes of getting someone to tell you what you want to hear!

Photo by Pavan Trikutam on Unsplash

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