Friday, April 11, 2014


There comes a time in people's lives (including mine) when it is important to seek out and receive advice.  When those times occur in my life, I think about those people whom I know and trust...people who have experience in the areas I need advice...and people who will be straight with me, not mixing words.  There are not many of these type of people in our lives, and it is important to build that group over time.  Recently I was seeking advice on an issue and approached several of my trusted's what I did:

  • asked them for a short amount of their time
  • met them on their terms (time and place)
  • clarified the issue for them
  • asked the burning question
  • listened to what they told me
  • told them what my greatest fear was
  • let them assure me or provide ways around/through the fear
  • asked clarifying questions on their advice
  • listened some more
  • thanked them for their time
  • sent a thank you as a follow up
Here's the paradox - the more one "moves up" in their career, the more they are expected to know...the more experience one has, the more they are expected to know...the older one gets, the more they are expected to know...the more titles and degrees one accumulates, the more they are expected to know - and often times they stop asking for advice.  It is at these times when those of us in leadership roles need to realize we know less than we think we do and consistently ask for advice.  Not only do we learn something, the person giving the advice benefits because 1) they get to hear themselves talking about the issue out loud, clarifying their own thoughts; and 2) they feel great being asked for their advice.  EVERYBODY WINS!  So here are my thoughts on how to become the type of person who asks for and gets good advice on a regular basis:
  • Believe you are not the smartest person in the room
  • When you find someone whom you trust and has the knowledge and experience you need, develop a relationship with them over time
  • Never force this type of relationship - if it develops, great...if not, keep them as a colleague and keep trying to find the right person
  • Prior to the conversation, think through the questions you want to ask and get the wording right
  • Invite these people into your life and entrust them with your deepest concerns and fears
  • Be a good listener
  • Don't be a pest
  • Let them ask you for advice every now and then - and be gracious enough to give it to them
  • Follow up with people - they appreciate knowing that their advice actually made a difference
  • And finally...Believe you are not the smartest person in the room
Enjoy the process of asking others for will be amazed at what you learn and how you may soon become the type of person whom others will ask for advice.

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