This is the third lesson in my series of 16 lessons learned from 16 years in business. Read the introductory lesson here
Over the course of the life of my business, I have gotten lots of advice. Most all (I assume) well meaning, sometimes profound and timely, other times confusing and often contradictory. I've gotten advice from friends, family, and clients. I've gotten advice from other consultants. I've gotten advice from experts. seminars, magazines, books, blogs, podcasts, CDs, and tapes (hey, 16 years is a long time).
I have, of course, given lots of advice too - that is part of what I get paid to do, and I'll give you some more before this post is complete.
So I've thought alot about advice, taken some and rejected some, and here is what I've learned:
You should listen to it all, then listen to your heart. Decide what to do and move on.Our Lessons
There are really four pieces of advice in that short sentence, let me talk briefly about each and how to apply them to your personal and professional endeavors.Listen to it all
To be a learner, to be in a mode of growth, we need seek it out and listen to want we find. Please read broadly, please ask people what they would do, and search for ideas, solutions, and approaches. Be a sponge to these ideas, take them in with open arms and an open mind.Listen to your heart
Some of the advice you may not like and may not agree with. Don't dismiss it out of hand - give it time to percolate in your mind. Some of the advice will be recurring - if you hear the same thing over and over, maybe you should listen a little closer. And some of the advice will seem immediately accurate and agreeable to you. While this might be more pleasant it also requires you to reflect on it a bit - while it may be comfortable, it might not be right. Decide what to do
All of this is preamble to deciding. Advice and counsel is great, and in the end you must decide which advice to heed and which advice to ignore or delay. You can't do everything - even if you received 5 pieces of great advice, you might not be able to apply all of them at the same time. Decide what you will accept and use right now.Move on
In the end any advice, counsel or feedback is only valuable if you take action! This is part of "moving on." The other part of "moving on" is letting go of the advice you haven't chosen to take now. You've decided and taken action - don't let the naysayers or other competing options you didn't choose weigh you down. Move on!
This is my advice on receiving advice. There are lessons for giving advice inside of this post as well, but for now I will leave you to ponder those for yourself. (Sometimes the best advice is simply pointing people in the right direction, and letting them own the ideas).
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Labels: advice, feedback, learning
The other day my son commented that his mother and I were being judgemental. this came after I made a comment about something as we drove down the road.
My immediate response was that I wasn't judging, but making an observation. This led to a spirited conversation in our car about the differences between observation and judgement. The differences are huge and we see them every day. Here are a couple of examples.
"His hair is long." - observation
"His hair is too long." or "His hair needs to be cut." - judgements
"The table is black." - observation
"The table is ugly." - judgement
"She is very skilled." - observation, if based on truly observing the skills being discussed
"She is better than I am." judgement, unless there is factual measurement on a criteria that all agree defines "better."
The conversation we had in our car was more than wordplay or a dictionary challenge. It defines an important concept that we often lose sight of or miss by not thinking clearly. As a leader when developing others, giving feedback or making decisions, we need to be crystal clear on our judgements vs. our observations.
Are you passing judgement on people and their behavior? Whether positive or negative, spoken or unspoken those judgements will have an impact on people's performance (so if you are going to judge, make it a positive one!)
When giving feedback are your statements largely observational or judgmental? If you try to pass judgement off as fact you risk being wrong and setting a stage for defensiveness, resistance or worse.
While we all need to make judgements, when making decisions, especially important ones, it is again important to separate observation from assumption and judgement. doing so will help you make better decisions.
No where right now is it clearer than in the campaign for the U.S. Presidency.
Both Senator Obama and Senator McCain (and in many more cases their spokespeople, surrogates and fans) make statements meant to be interpreted as observations or statements of fact, when in effect they are merely judgements or personal interpretations. Use the time you watch or listen to campaign related activities over the next couple of days to help you identify and sort out observations from judgements. This practice will help you in your life, and perhaps help you sort out the truth from the massive spin that is employed by both campaigns as well as their supporters.
Also posted in Leadership
Labels: decision making, feedback, presidential candidates, presidential leadership