Recently I heard a talk show host telling a mother to turf her 18-year-old son out the door and to be prepared to not have contact for a year or more. My heart ached for both the mother and the son and I couldn’t help think that the radio host was as dense as a brick. Of course, I have a real problem with the validity of problem solving in 30 seconds over the phone. Here’s a life-altering situation, so hey, let me tell you how to shape up based on my need to give advice!
Run your business this way and see how it works. You have a concern that is life altering and you call me, toss some half-truths, a few facts, and a one-sided story at me and I toss back the definitive solution for your million dollar dilemma. Does that make you feel secure? I doubt it.
Now I didn’t hear the whole story from the mother but I know, as a parent, I’m in for the long haul, and some days it has seemed like a real long haul. My son and I have had some tough times when he was in his late teens and early 20s. But, as the country song says, “That’s my job”. I’m the parent and it is my job to help guide my child through the troubled waters of youth.
In our society we have put magic markers on certain birthdays.
“When they’re eighteen, they’re out of the house.”
Have you heard that one? While I did go away to school when I was eighteen, I could have stayed at home on the farm and I wouldn’t have been shoved out to live in the barn. My parents home was always there for me and my parents were always there to listen, advise and converse.
In tough times, as a parent or as a business owner, we all need to recognize that help is available. A trusted friend, a mentor or a specialist can provide the appropriate advice and be a catalyst for growth and change. Turfing the perceived problem out the door is not a valid solution. Even the most reluctant participant in a problem solving situation can be brought into the “moving forward” mode with the appropriate guidance. Giving up is not guidance.
In many of my sessions with managers, supervisors and executives it’s been evident the forward path wasn’t in anyone’s mind. It took creativity on my part to bring the participants to the table. It also took time, some setbacks and perseverance. Nothing happens instantly. Hurricanes, tornados and instant breakfast all take time to prepare before they’re unleashed on the world.
Let’s go back to the instant solution radio host. Yes, this person has a degree. Whoopee! Some of the dumbest people I’ve ever met I met when I was getting my degree. A degree, while it does suggest some knowledge, is really only the mark of tenacity. Stick around long enough and complete the assignments, you’ll get your degree.
The next time you’re inclined to give instant advice, stop and consider the consequences. Do you really have all the facts? Do you know both sides of the story? Are you really the best person to coach or mentor?
While it may be an ego boost to give sage advice, it’s also a responsibility. Take your responsibilities seriously. Advice has to have validity and value to the receiver, not just radio or ego ratings for you.
Garth Roberts www.garthroberts.com