Is good advice always good for you?

In a sea of busyness and uncertainty we can become a vacuum for advice that will help calm our angst at 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 that 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? 

  1. 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.  
  2. 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.  
  3. When your hangry - or tired or at the wrong end of a bottle of champagne*.  You’ve need to be in the right frame of mind to take advice on board. If you’re not - defer the conversation - even for 5 minutes, reset and then come back in. 

Having said that, there are times that we need to hear things that might be uncomfortable and hard. So, when can advice be actually good for you? Again these guidelines can help you sift out what to actually take some time with: 

  1. When you’ve asked for it - Yep, you’ve actually given the other person permission to share their opinion, it’s highly likely you are seeking a solution for something you think they might be a valuable contributor on. Be specific though - the ‘what do you think about my entire life’s choices?’ may not be that helpful.
  2. When their expertise exceeds yours - If the other person has a deep expertise or experience in the area that you are seeking advice for it’s highly likely that this advice is worthy of your time. It might not match for your situation, but they have wisdom to pass on that could be like a breathe of fresh air in a car at the end of a family road-trip; with three teenage boys. 
  3. When they have YOUR success at heart - Those who actually ask you questions first, seek to clarify what would be helpful to you now, and who, at the end of the day want nothing but the best of success for you. That person is the person I’d listen to. 

And if they tell you to back yourself, then that’s pretty good advice too. 

* mostly ‘clean me up’ but….well…even that’s good advice I s’pose. 

**BTW - if you’re advice giver is any combination of these three, make them a cuppa, grab the Tim-Tams pop them into bed with the packet, and let them know everything will be alright after a good nights sleep. 


Comparison is the thief of connection

Last week I had a mentoring session with an amazing group of women and I was struck by the small ways that we as women downplay ourselves through comparisons with others. There were statements like: ‘What I’ve done is not as good as ______’; and ‘they are so amazing, I could never do that’.

We need to stop this talk.

The problem with comparison is it’s misguided humility. In reality it’s more of a shield that saves us fully to stepping into our own unique blend of weirdness.

The greatest casualty of comparison is connection. It robs us of the ability to stand beside someone and say ‘I see you’. The greatest gift we can give anyone is the gift of being fully present when we are with them.

That statement was so important I want to say it again (in bold).

The greatest gift we can give someone is to be completely present with someone.

To paraphrase Sarah Kay's brilliant TED Talk true connection happens when people aren't just waiting for their turn to speak, but that they 'hear you, they feel exactly what you feel at the same time that you feel it. It's what I strive for'. 

Present to what they are saying, present to the subtle things they are not saying, present to their struggles and their greatest achievements. The second we start comparing (which we all do) we disconnect from our ability to be fully present.

The next time you catch yourself doing this, take a deep breathe. Remind yourself you don’t know their heartache and what keeps them awake. Reassure yourself you are exactly where you need to be in this world and then turn up...fully present to the here and now.

And if what the other person is saying or doing isn’t serving you, have the courage to say ‘thanks but no thanks.

We are connection creatures. You deserve love and belonging, and so does the person standing in front of you.


Ali xx

P.S I came across this beautiful experiment demonstrates that power that just 'being with' another person can have on deep connection.

I've sat in a similar experiment of simply sitting with a relative stranger for 1 minute. It was a profound experience: Watch this intimate video here

It's personal….or is it?

I read a quote somewhere the other day that stopped me in my tracks and has been going around in my head ever since. The quote was:  

‘What if you never took anything personally ever again?’

At first I started to get defensive and my ego kicked into gear with thoughts like, ‘but sometimes it IS all about me’, ‘we have to take on board personal feedback’, and ‘but I’m being arrogant if I don’t listen to others’.

Reach Out

In a busy business world, where we are connected with a multitude of people, more and more women in particular are craving the sense of belonging that comes from a close-knit group of women who just ‘get you’ and get your work. You’ve got great mates and your family are supportive, but they don’t really understand why you work so hard, why you are away so much, or even really what you actually do?

Strip back your message

With the advent of Twitter and status updates on Facebook, we are being asked to exercise the skill of stripping back our message to the core (to 140 characters or less, in fact). We think that this is a good skill to learn, particularly if you are in a leadership role. Imagine if your manager or CEO came along to your next meeting and was able to clearly explain the vision, strategy and purpose of the organisation in 140 characters (or less), what would that be like? 

What’s below the surface?

Ever wondered why people act in certain ways? In a work context you might have wondered why;

Sally didn’t hand that project in on time, even though she knew how important it was...

Bob got into another heated argument with a contractor even though he has been spoken to in the past about his communication skills....  

Why Tim just can’t seem to put his dirty coffee cups in the washing machine instead of leaving it in the sink....

Well Sally, Bob and Tim all exhibit behaviour because of antecedents that occur first. Let me explain a little further.


‘He said, she said’ - who’s right?

Do you ever find that you get caught up in conversations that go round in circles?

Are there times that you find yourself acting as peace keeper trying to figure out the real issue of a disagreement between others?

Sometimes when faced with conflict and interpersonal issues within the workplace conversations can get caught up into ‘he said, she said’. You know the ones, where both parties are 100% right and start to point fingers or deny actions in order to try and convince you they are 100% right. 

The Future is Flexible

Have you noticed that the world of work is changing, and it’s changing fast?

And yet some of our ideas about how we work, when we work, and where we work remain outdated and are dragging the chain of change badly. 

For many years we have connected the idea of flexible work with women balancing families, but this is no longer the case. Many men are seeking far greater work-life fit, elderly workers are seeking to graduate a transition into retirements, and there are more and more individuals seeking flexibility to allow them to pursue other aspects of their lives. And if someone offered you more flexibility and autonomy in how you worked tomorrow I have a feeling it’s an offer you’d take up!

It's Game ON.....

Designing work to make clever happen - if we can reach 200 attendees for the next Think Tank - a FREE event for savvy Gold Coast business people we will give away all attendees a gift! Join Darren Hill and myself along with Dr Jason Fox for this exciting professional development afternoon, hosted by Bond University. 

Change is the new black.

I’m wondering if you have experienced a major change in the past 12 months, either at work or personally? And, do you expect that there will be further change ahead of you in the coming 12 months? 

If you have answered yes to either or both of these questions then you know how rapid change is in our world.* We no longer hear about 5 year plans, because the reality is we don’t know what things are going to be like in 5 months time. 

Change is the new black.

Be puzzled not stumped

How do you start a jigsaw puzzle? 

Do you do the edges first or colour code the pieces?

Do you work to an organised system or just pick up a piece and hope for the best?

Whether it’s a jigsaw, a Suduko, or even an old Rubix cube how we approach puzzles is very individual, and yet we inherently know that we are all working towards the same outcome. 

Let's Play a Game

I want to to play a word association game with you. Y’know the game? I say ‘apple’, you say ‘fruit’. I say ‘sky’, you say ‘blue’, I say ‘Ryan Gosling’, you say ‘hell yes!’

So the word association game I want to play has a little twist. I want you to respond to a phrase.

Just accept it.

What went through your head? Did you have a response? Or are you still thinking of Ryan Gosling....