Posts Tagged ‘advice’

Have you ever offered advice only to find that it’s duly ignored? Makes you feel kind of cruddy, right? Especially given that, in your mind, it was probably exactly what the recipient needed to hear?

Here’s an inside secret…no one really likes being told what to do (even if they came to you asking for advice…weird, quirky, but true). Further, and I’m sure you’ve experienced this, when people come to their own conclusions, they are more satisfied, motivated and inspired. And when they land on their own solution…BING BING BING…they’re more likely to follow through in action.

The coaching profession accounts for this by basing its work on the assumption that every person is naturally creative, resourceful and whole. Everyone has the answers to their life’s problems within them…they just need someone to help them to pull it out. And when expert advice is really required, clients will have the motivation to find that, too.

I just let you in on Coaching 101. It may sound a little abstract (perhaps), a little ungrounded (I assure you that it is not) and a little woo-woo (at times, sure). But the idea of building your own something and loving it more than something you were just handed is called “The Ikea Effect”. An article in the Harvard Business Review points to the phenomenon that “labor enhances affection for its results”. You-fab vs. pre-fab means you’ll find it more fab.

Intrinsically, I believe this to be true. I am most fond of the art in my house that my husband and I have created ourselves. We encourage our daughter to make her own mistakes rather than handing her the answers. And I’m certainly finding my own way in business as an entrepreneur (with some support systems in place) more so than when I was “corporate”. Ask around…you’ll see what I mean. Stacie Maier, very cool owner of Uprise Careers points to her favourite tattoo…a cute and simple paw print. It’s not the same caliber of the others that adorn her frame, but she did it herself (told you she was cool…and a GREAT person to talk to if you’re late-20’s and “not cubicle friendly”).

Where the Ikea Effect can be worrisome is in the power of “I’m righteousness”. We’ve seen this too, haven’t we? People who actually use and BELIEVE such 80’s phrases such as: “my way or the highway”. The HBR article points out:

Managers should keep in mind that ideas they have come to love because they invested their own labor in them may not be as highly valued by their coworkers – or their customers.

In building Ikea furniture, we all know one thing: lose the Allen key and your Galant desk will never come together. No duct tape can help you there.

Further, in coming to your own decisions, if you’ve asked for advice, please appreciate the perspective from which it came, listen to the offering for resonance with your own values and go from there. Assuredly, no duct tape will be required.


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If you ever feel like you live in a cold, uncaring world, do yourself a favour and start a business. Preferably one you feel passionate about.

When I first started Board of Your Life, my friend Lisa gave me this piece of advice: “ask people for help”. I was mighty skeptical. What was in it for them? Why would they bother? What if they said no?

Turns out, she was right (and not for the first time) and I was wrong (ditto). Not only has everyone I’ve asked for advice been there with open arms, but I’ve also been approached by people I barely know. With genuine sincerity, they ask how they can help me. Amazing but true.

I was in Montreal last week, and while there, Lisa had a dinner in my honour. That was lovely in and of itself, of course, but the people who took time out of their insanely busy lives were awe-inspiring. One woman in particular was short on time, but not graciousness. Upon hearing about my business she asked: “How can I help? What do you need from me?” This is NOT a woman with a vested interest…just an interest in helping someone for whom she felt a connection (I guess).

Another woman I met shared with me her personal daily mantra: “how can I serve others?” How lovely is that?

This brings me to a question I often hear from clients considering going through the Board of Your Life program: “how will I convince people to be part of my Advisory Board?” If only all of life’s questions were so easy to answer….and here it is: “just ask”. If you get to the point at which you decide that you want their help in taking your life in a magnificent new direction…they’ll fall all over themselves to accommodate. Wouldn’t you do the same for someone you respect?

But I digress…being in the presence of those women in Montreal made me realize how self-limiting we can be if we listen to those rhetorical questions in our head (of the “what’s in it for them” varietal). The reality is this: if I’m asked for help, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve said no to a reasonable request. When it comes down to it, people are good, kind and want to help others. It really is a beautiful thing. And the kindness of strangers can always be relied upon.

PS – check out the Huffington Post’s series on “random acts of kindness

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