Getting Advice

I recently read an article entitled “The Ten Worst Things About Job Hunting” (thanks for posting it, Donald Crews). If you are interested in the full posting the link is at the bottom of the page.

The list is really great. Job descriptions that don’t match the job. Online application systems. No contact from companies. On and On.  Most of those “worst things” are outside your control.  But there is at least one “worst thing about job hunting” that you have the power to control.

It was also the first “worst thing about job hunting” in the list:
“1. Contradictory advice. There’s loads of job-search advice on the Internet, and much of it is contradictory. Confused job-seekers are bombarded by rules that often conflict—from whether or not to use a resume objective, to whether to follow up on your application with a phone call, to how you should handle talking about a past firing. And most of this conflicting advice is presented as must-be-followed gospel.”

Here is my take on this very important subject – Advice.

Good advice depends on three things

This is not to say that getting advice is a bad thing to do.  But  advice depends on three things in order for it to be good for you.  First is your knowledge, experience or awareness.  Do you know anything about the subject? Are you placing the advice in context of a deep awareness of yourself?  Is the advice tailored to you?  Are you accepting the advice for other reasons (to be nice, out of desperation, because it sounds right, etc.)?  The second thing is “consider the source“.  Is the person giving the advice an expert?  How much do they know about the subject?  Do they really know you well enough to give you that advice?

For example, if someone gave you the advice to “race a marathon” next weekend, you would probably reject that advice.  You have a sense of how torturous it would be to run 26 miles – especially if you had not trained.  You have enough knowledge about a marathon.  The other person may justify the advice with things like: “you look like a runner” or “you would be so proud of the accomplishment” or “you will enjoy being with a big crowd” or “Oprah did it, so can you”.  But you are not buying that because you know a lot about yourself and the final outcome if you did try to run a marathon.

When we don’t know as much about the outcome, advice gets accepted more often

However, when it comes to things we do not know as much about the future outcome, the advice gets accepted more readily. When someone tells you to “add this to your resume” or “you need to go to these job boards and sign up” or “go to this-and-this-and-this-and-this networking event”, we generally accept that advice.  We don’t know the outcome from that action and assume it is right or at least not harmful (“what have I got to lose?”).  If  that the person seems like an expert, or is a well-meaning person who “is nice” or they “heard it from a recruiter” or “has been job searching for a while”, we are more willing to accept the advice.  We don’t pause to consider the source – however well meaning they are.

That leads to the third big dependency that is missing in all of this advice, context.


You are the context.  You may not be ready for that advice.  Perhaps you need time to really understand your career or life objectives.  You may want to build awareness around what you want to do next.  Getting dozens of e-mails with job postings may only serve to deflect you from spending your time wisely.  Adding or subtracting some component of your resume may define your path before you are ready to make the journey.  There is a lot of context that can influence the advice’s viability.

I am not suggestion you stall or delay.  Don’t procrastinate.  But purposeful movement might be the best course FOR YOU.

How a coach might be helpful to you

So when people ask why they should use a coach, the answer I would give is: being able to learn enough context to AVOID that first “worst thing” – Contradictory Advice. Most of us have the answer to our destiny within ourselves. Sometimes we need a coach to help us get at that awareness.  Then we can start discerning about advice we receive.

Assisting others in gaining that awareness of self, that context, is one of the main reasons I chose to be a coach. A coach is generally very sparing in giving advice.  That is different from a consultant, a mentor, or a specific subject matter expert who generally provide advice much quicker.

Best of luck in thinking about this advice!!!!!

Here is the original article link:


A small lesson in communication

I saw this the other day.  First, it made me laugh.  Then it made me think about communicating.  I hope it will do the same two things for you.

Sign in a Men’s Bathroom in a Catholic Church. Bear with me and focus on the the three words in ” “:                                     photo 1







Here is where it was located:photo 2 (1)

I have to admit, I laughed about the irony of a quote telling you to “sit down first” when you are standing in front of a urinal.  How does that work?

Okay, funny, and perhaps a bit ironic.  But as a follow up to my last post on communication, I think there is a short point to make.

Think about the purpose of the sign.  It had a good message.  But, I could not really ACT on the suggestion of the quote at that moment in time.  So it lost a lot of its power.  The message was soon forgotten.  Good message, bad positioning.

If the sign was posted elsewhere, I might have been able to act on it.  For instance, if this quote was posted on the bathroom mirror, circumstances change.  As I am washing my hands, I see the quote and read it. I have a chance to act on it.  Since I am in a church, maybe I immediately go “sit down” and ponder the message.   Now the message has power and purpose.  It is something I might act on.

Apply that same concept to your life.  Think about yourself.  Do you have a good message that is in the wrong place for people to act on?  Might you have some great idea that others would be interested in if they saw it where they might react to it?  Do you have a good story to tell, but it stays within you because you are reticent to seek others out (you “post it” where no one can see it)? Might your true message be confused by the position you put it in?  Are you “misunderstood” or “misinterpreted” or “overlooked”?  Might it be the location of the message, not the message content or the messenger, that is holding you back?

I saw this somewhere the other day: “A confused prospect never buys.”  If you are not clear about what you are trying to get across, odds are people won’t buy what you have to sell.  I urge you to think about your message – and where you are placing it.

March is communication month

I read somewhere that March has been designated “Communication Month”.  I wonder who comes up with those designations?  How widely accepted are they?  Who knows?  But I do like to focus on communication, so I thought I would use a few quotes to address communication.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place” – George Bernard Shaw

How many times have we all thought we were clear, but someone else did not get what we were saying?  For those of us with kids, weren’t we clear? Not to our child!  Ever met a person who automatically assumes you know someone else and begins talking about them?  Or someone who uses jargon or acronyms that you have no idea what they mean?  Sometimes we just fantasize to ourselves that we have communicated something so that we can get ourselves off the hook.

“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand.  We listen to reply” – Unattributed

Guilty as charged!  It is so hard sometimes to simply focus only on listening.  We want to be witty or helpful or intelligent-sounding or empathetic.  So we are thinking about what WE want to say, instead of focusing on what the OTHER PERSON is saying.  We miss so much when we focus on our reply, rather than the words and actions of the other person.

Ever met someone who says one thing but does another?  How about the person who says they “want to help” but immediately brushes off whatever you said?  Or the person who is on their cell phone or watches tv or looks elsewhere when you are trying to talk about something important.  Your actions are a very strong way of communicating your true intent.

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said” – Peter Drucker

I was thinking about an example of this the other day.  How many times do you say to someone, “How are you doing?” and you get their reply, “Okay”?  You have two choices.  The first, the one I am most guilty of doing, is moving on to whatever else I wanted to talk about with that person.  The second choice is much harder.  It requires you to decide, what does “okay” mean?   Sometimes I will ask for clarification.  Is that a “good” okay, a “bad” okay or an “okay” okay?  If you can see in the other person’s body language or facial expression or hear something subtle in their voice, you might discover the true meaning to “okay”.  That might unlock a whole new realm of communication.

And finally, this fits today’s society.  Image result for communication quotesWhen in doubt, think about trying to get together to talk.  It is so much more effective generally. Nothing more needs to be said.

I hope this post inspires you to work on communicating better.  Happy Communication Month!
A fun one.  Image result for effective communication quotes

Angles and points of view

Rose and I  read a book the other day writing about “looking at things from a different angle”.  The reading was about how we look at things from our viewpoint, not considering others.  You can think of it as what does the Broadway show look like from different seats in the auditorium?  The balcony on the left makes the show much different than the seats far away from stage or in the orchestra seats.  Think about a sporting event.  Everybody sees the plays and the officials’ calls from different vantage points.  It could be where they are sitting (mid-field versus the end).  It could be their loyalties (“the officials are calling everything for the other team”).  It could be their understanding of the game (why is the player doing that or why is the coach not playing my son/daughter in the right spot?).  Might it be possible that someone raised in Utah has a different perspective than someone raised in New York City or in Alabama?

I find it easy to tell myself that I am willing to look at things from someone else’s angle or viewpoint.  I am open minded.  But of course I will convince myself that I am right and they are still wrong.  But at least I looked at it from their viewpoint?  Ha.  I think I maybe missed the point!

Let’s make it real.  Try to understand the perspective of someone who supports Trump or Clinton or Cruz or Sanders. That can be really, really hard.  But a significant number of your fellow Americans do believe in one of them.  What would it be like to try to understand why they support that person you “know is bad?”  What angles do they have in their life that are hidden from you?  What is out of your field of vision?  From their seats in the world’s auditorium, what are they seeing and hearing that is so different than you?

What benefit might you gain from looking at things from someone else’s viewpoint or angle?  I believe you will gain more empathy for the other person.  By trying to “walk in their shoes”, might you come to better grasp why they are where they are in their thinking?  It is really hard to understand someone else’s position if you cannot fathom their starting point.   Empathy is known to increase prosocial (helping) behaviors.  Empathy means you are trying to understand someone else’s emotions.  So rather than thinking, “This person believes such-and-such because they are uneducated or were raised wrong or have no common sense”, we actually try to understand their emotional state.

Another benefit from a different angle is adding more depth to your own thinking.  We form our opinions and positions based on a mix of ingredients.  Facts, experiences, ideas passed down in family/social circles, anecdotes, things we read/heard all combine to form our positions.  The mixture is constantly changing based on where we are.  But if we keep similar “seats” – reading the same writers, watching the same TV, going to the same social media sites – aren’t we missing the “end zone” seats’ or the “balcony” seats’ viewpoints?  Sometimes those can be very life changing.

Another benefit of angle are they broadens us.  We tend to talk to, socialize, read and (really) listen to people similar to us.  That is okay.  But it never hurts to broaden our perspective.  Trying to see things the way others – especially those we do not relate with – see things is hard work.  But it is hard work that will lead to insight and awareness.

I am not saying you need to change your position on things.  That is for you to decide.  But………

I think all of us at one point in our lives have said, “I wonder that it is like to be like so-and-so” (Nike had their “Be Like Mike commercials for instance).  It is a fun way of imaging us as something totally different than we are. Usually we think it terms of being like someone ultra successful – a movie star, singer, an athlete.  It comes natural to us, even if we do it in a cavalier way.  But what if we tried to “be like” an “ordinary” person? What if we tried to imagine it from their perspective?  What if we tried to imagine how the other person got to wherever they did?  What if we thought about the life-defining experiences that might have led someone to an opinion or stance on some issue very different from ours?


Build Empathy?

Deeper thinking about our own positions?

Broaden our perspective?

Sounds like a good recipe to me.  Pick a new angle to look at things.  You might grow.


Otherish – That sounds like a Dr. Seuss word doesn’t it?  

It’s not!

In actuality, it is an interesting concept that I ran across.

Otherish is a term used by the author Adam Grant in his fascinating book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success.  An otherish person is someone who is a Giver in life – they want to help other people.  But the distinction is that an otherish person demonstrates substantial concern for themselves as well as others.  “They care about benefiting others, but they also have ambitious goals for advancing their own interests”.

Grant displays it this way:Self Interest and Concern for others 4 box chartMy interest lies in the “High” Concern for Others’ Interests – Givers in life.  The selfless person (upper right quadrant) has high concern for other but low concern for themselves.  They want to help others.  But they rarely think of their own interests.  A selfless person has an absence of self-preservation. It sounds like the opposite of “selfish”, but it is not.  It is really just another extreme emotional state.

An example of a selfless person is the mother who drops whatever she is doing to provide assistance or care for others in the family.  She might be getting ready to cook dinner, but interrupts preparation to help a child find something.  She might be talking with a neighbor, but abruptly leave because her child needs to go to the store now to buy a new cell phone because they broke their other one.  Or maybe she was starting to relax when her husband tells her he needs his shirt ironed for tomorrow’s important meeting.  She gives up herself for someone else.  That is not healthy in the long run.

Perhaps you know someone who always seems to be doing good deeds for others – all the time.  Have you ever seen them get taken advantage of?  Have you ever seen them “drop out”?  Have you seen them at the point of exhaustion, or looking flustered too often?  Studies have shown that when people give continually without concern for their own well-being, they are at risk for poor mental and physical health.

The otherish style (bottom right corner of the chart)  is a much more effective (and balanced) way of helping others. The otherish individual is willing to give more than receive, but they keep their own interests in mind.  Using their own interests as a guide, they decide when, where, how and to whom to give.  They don’t see self-interest and others’ interest as competing concepts, but integrate them.  Studies have shown that this way of being makes the giver less prone to burnout – and to getting burned by those who will take advantage of them.

I found this a fascinating concept to think about.  Hopefully you have a desire to help others.  Do it, because it is good for you and for society.  We were all taught, “it is better to give than receive”.  But like almost everything, you can take giving to an extreme.  The otherish concept says, take a moment to consider yourself sometimes.  In the end, you will be healthier and happier.

And you know what?  If you are on the left hand side of Grant’s Chart – The Taker – think about your legacy.  do the words “apathetic” and “selfish” sound good to you?