In Middle-earth on the web currently, where marvellous teachers with names like Guido and Korval advise on formatting. No wonder games-developers-turned-fantasy-writers dominate online book sales. They are the only folk who really know what’s going on.

Now if you earn your living from giving advice in one form or another, you’ll know this is a demanding activity. Here are some contradictions we face:

•The best advice comes from personal experience ‘I know this works’.But as we are all uniquely the sum of our individual experience, this may not apply to the advised.

•People often want advice on what to do – prescription – but they often learn better if they figure this out for themselves, with a clear goal.

•Disciplined routines and targets help measure progress but they may destroy exploration, discovery and creativity for the advice-seeker.

•To earn money from advice-giving it needs to be formalized in some way. Formal learning it seems, is not nearly as effective as informal learning, with a 20/80%split in effectiveness roughly.

So bearing in mind all this, it seems sensible when taking advice to rely on:

And to

Watch out for assumptions and missing elephants
What judgements has your advice giver made about you? And are they correct? If not, maybe time to have a ‘this is not who I am or who I want to be’ conversation with them, before getting in deeper…

Most of us are all too familiar with the idea of ‘the elephant in the room’. The great big stonking issue that everyone pretends isn’t there and ignores. Any advice-givers and takers need to be honest about blithely avoiding elephants which will trash any hoped-for results. Like advice, say on marketing, which overlooks any need for knowledge or content with any substance.

Drill down to your core

Our intuition usually includes tacit, unconscious knowledge. And we live in times where the opportunity to drill down into the subjects we love, want to know more about and then communicate to others, has never been greater. Niche, higher resolution and chunking content down are the order of the day.

We are able to grapple, experiment and express cross-platform, getting feedback and mostly for free. Somehow I don’t think it’s New Agey to suggest these learning journeys help us connect more fully to who we really are in the world. Steve Jobs springs to mind here.

Seek Illuminating 1-2-1s

Holding back from getting evangelical here. As a minute-scale operator, my best resource for research offline is illuminating 1-2-1 chats with friends who are typical recipients for what I’m thinking of doing. Normally involving coffee, lunch with maybe some wine, our chats usually last a couple of hours. They are extraordinarily helpful in getting focus and feedback.

Some of you read this blog, you know who you are and I want to thank you.

Confidence is about how we deal with uncertainty. There are times where we can steep ourselves in advice, but that still, small voice deep inside says ‘Do it this way’.Your decision may be about listening to it and leaping in – rather than risking certain unconscious sabotage.

It could be time to thank those advice-givers, move on and say ‘Farewell and thank you’ to your own version of Middle-earth. You may have had a fine time there – but other lands beckon.

By szcz

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