In a sea of busyness and uncertainty, we can become a vacuum for advice that will help calm our angst and uncertainty, sucking it up from any outlet that’s willing to share it – and there are plenty.
I’m a self-proclaimed advice magnet. I seek it out, I spend more money on ‘helpful’ books then I should admit, and there are days when even my tea leaves seem to be trying to send me a message.
The majority of times, though, this frenetic advice seeking is simply a cover for the discomfort I feel in the uncertainty of what’s next; the hope that someone, somewhere, will have the silver bullet that will rescue me from the swamp of unrest I’m currently sinking into. That’s not to say that good advice isn’t good in this state, but just because you hear good advice doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
As you step forward into your next thing - it might be a new venture, a new project, or even just working with a new team - you might find yourself scrabbling for advice, clutching onto what others have done as though it’s gospel. But just because it worked for ‘Susie’ doesn’t mean it will be work for you.
How can you discern whether advice is good for you, and when should you run in the other direction? The following are a few guidelines that I’ve found useful to consider before you make any drastic changes.
When is advice something you take with a grain of salt?
When it’s unsolicited. Just because someone’s got an opinion doesn’t mean you need to swallow it. If it comes your way without you asking, say thanks, pick out any gems if there are any, and move on. Quickly.
When it’s not about you. All of us see the world through our own lens. The friend who hates their job and starts a lobby group for you to leave yours could be an indication of the type of advice that is not actually about you. If it doesn’t feel right for you, move on.
When you're hangry. Or tired, or at the wrong end of a bottle of champagne. You need to be in the right frame of mind to take advice on board. If you’re not, defer the conversation - even for five minutes, reset and then come back in.