A few years ago, I was facing a big decision at work. I talked to a friend who gave me some great advice. Then I talked to a coach who gave me a different perspective. I talked to a third person and my thinking was challenged yet again. Believe it or not, seeking advice paralyzed my decision making.
In The 12 Week Year, Brian P. Moran says an annual plan can actually keep people from accomplishing their goals. We have the unspoken belief that there is plenty of time in the year to make things happen. In January, December looks like a long way off, so we can wait on results. A good thing can become the very thing that leads to inaction.
Looking back on my situation, who knows who was right? Maybe they all were. But I let the volume of advice keep me from making a decision. I was drowning in advice and delayed making a decision.
Failure usually happens alone but success always comes with counsel. But maybe you’re allowing too much counsel to lead you to inaction. If this resonates with you, here are four suggestions.
Find two or three people you respect and dive deep.
About ten years ago, my friend Mike told me something I’ve never forgotten. He said, “If you follow one person, you’ll become a clone. If you follow 10 people, you’ll be confused.” They key he said, was to have two or three advisors who you trust deeply and leaning on them
I’ve spent a few years now coaching preachers and public speakers and I’ve seen this quote in action. Some preachers model their approach after their favorite speaker and end up sounding like a clone. They don’t create; they copy. And it comes off all wrong.
Instead, find two or three people you respect and really learn from them. Don’t just look at their style; look at how they do what they do. Don’t just study their tactics; uncover their philosophies.
When looking for a mentor, the most important question to ask is “Do I want to be like them?”
A lot of my business happens online. For this reason, I work hard to stay on top of online marketing strategies and tactics. Honestly, this is a pretty shady industry. For example:
- People send out automated, pre-scheduled emails saying the response to an offer crashed the servers. How could a server crash be scheduled in advance?
- Marketers often create fake scarcity, saying they only have 100 discount codes. In reality, it’s a standing offer. Or there’s a countdown timer for when the offer expires, but if you visit the page a week later, the countdown timer starts over.
- We’re taught how to tell stories that highlight the fear of the worst case scenario or the fear of missing out.
There are masterminds that costs tens of thousands of dollars, courses that cost $2k or more, and free books that aren’t really free and lead to a sales pitch. All of this stuff really works. And that’s the problem.
But just because something works doesn’t mean that something is good. There are a lot of people who can give you good advice or teach you a tactic, and while you can learn from anyone and anything, be careful who you emulate.
That’s why the most important question you can ask yourself about potential mentors is “Do I want to BE like them?” Yes, you can separate tactics from character, but why force yourself to make that distinction? If you’re looking for a marriage counselor, look for someone who has a masters degree and has been happily married to one person. And if you’re looking for a business coach, look for someone who is leading a good business whose kids still love her.
Don’t be afraid to pay for coaching.
Meeting a friend for lunch to pick their brain is a great thing. I’m grateful to have friends like this, and I hope I’m that kind of friend to others.
But there comes a time when you need to hire people and pay for coaching. I haven’t always done this and I wish I had started sooner. Right now, I’m going through one of those expensive online courses (it’s excellent and worth every penny). I’m paying a business coach and talk to him on a regular basis. It’s money well spent, because it’s advice that I trust.
Maybe you should stop asking so many people for free advice and start paying a professional for counsel. If you’re facing a challenge and you’re thinking “what’s the cheapest way I could get through this problem” that’s a big mistake.
Mentor someone else first.
The best way to learn the art of mentoring (and find good mentors) is to BE a good mentor. Find someone a step or two behind where you are and start pouring into them. Teach them what you know and you’ll probably learn something in the process.
You have something to offer people. You have experiences, successes and failures and there will never be a better time for you to start pouring into people. I know you don’t really have the time (the people you ask for advice don’t have the time either), but you’ll quickly find making time for this feels right. Help somebody and be helped in the process.