I was back in France again this last week. Just a short trip. I travelled over on Thursday (very early) and came back on Friday (quite late). It was tiring but it was a very good trip. I met many inspiring and engaged people. As I left I felt excited and energised. And pleased.
As is my want, before I travelled I sought out as much advice as I could get. And I kept seeking advice all week. Travel advice. Legal advice. HR Advice. Communication advice. Food advice. Wine advice. And IT advice. I even made sure I had clothes advice (although that was before I left home). And I know that advice I received before and during my visit helped ensure that I felt good when I left.
I regularly seek advice. Every day I seek advice – which is pretty regular. I don’t always do exactly what I am advised (unless it is legal or IT advice – both of which I always follow to the letter). But I always listen. Intently and completely. Sometimes I identify a small change I can make that will have a big difference. And other times I take on big suggestions and change my approach entirely.
One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was to always look to seek out the opinions, ideas and counsel of others. My mentor suggested that such action would make a lasting positive impression and would only ever be of benefit. She also rightly mentioned that seeking advice is a great way to pick up new ideas…and, more often than not, ideas that are much better than those I have myself.
Amazingly enough there are also times when others seek advice from me. And again my mentor was correct when she explained all those years ago that we remember others who seek out our opinions. I remember people who ask me my advice. I recognise and enjoy that strong and positive feeling I have when I see them taking, building or improving on my suggestions.
In many ways its quite simple – when we seek advice from others we accomplish at least a couple of important things…we show a level of respect for the person we are asking; and they feel good since we are – by default – acknowledging their experience, understanding and insight. And we also get great advice!
All sounds good. But the strange thing is just how often our instincts can lead us to behave in the absolute opposite way! There are many of us for whom our instinctive behaviour (in many situations) is to want to show how good or smart we are by solving problems or delivering products without any help from anyone.
Of course it’s possible that this approach can work. But more often than not it doesn’t. Or – at best – if it works…it only just about works. It is rare for such a ‘lone wolf’ method to achieve all the goals let alone exceed expectations.
It’s true that when we go it alone, our desire is positive – to emphasise our ability and demonstrate our credibility. And yet so often we miss on both. We are much more likely to indicate a desire for independent action, and to highlight inexperience.
We never have enough time to do what we need to do, let alone what we want to do. Acting without clarifying can be costly. I always seek advice. I never worry that my questions may seem obvious. I worry much more about wasting my time and effort, or worse still, other people’s passion and commitment. I always ask.