More, On “Advice”

Been thinking about my last blog – specifically on the 4th Delphic precept – “In old age, give good advice”, and about what that means. So, of course, I have some advice to offer. Ha!

For The Advice Giver:

Stay away (like the plague) from the words: “you should”. As I tell all my coaching clients right up front, “if you hear me say ‘you should’, find the nearest brick and whack me on the head with it.”

Don’t Attach. Advice is something you are offering, that’s all. If the receiver chooses to ignore it, or not follow it, that has nothing to do with you. You, are not being judged or rejected – only your advice. What do I mean by this? An example of this, (maybe with our kids?):

I think a time comes (different for each kid of course) but way earlier than most parents want to admit, (and this is in the “letting go” department – very hard) when we need to sit down with our youngsters and say something like:

“We are at a time when it is no longer appropriate for me to be telling you what to do, run your life, and make your choices. You are ready to start making your own choices. What I really am now, is a loving, supportive fan, (or coach, if you want me to be), available to you at all times for help or advice on choices you are considering – if you choose to ask.”

“But this part is really, really important – you need to know that I have no pride of authorship in the advice or counsel I offer you. It’s important because if you think that I will be hurt or angry if you don’t agree or follow it, you won’t seek my views in the 1st place, and that would be truly a shame, because you will have missed out on the perspective of someone who has more life experience, and who loves and respects you.”

“So, know that if, after honestly considering my advice, you wish to follow it, that’s great. If not – equally great. I root for you just as much either way.”

And For The Advice Receiver:

Listen respectfully, be open, genuinely and honestly consider the advice given whatever the source (even if it’s a parent). Then, if it doesn’t feel right, if you can’t “own it”, make a different choice – one which feels like your own.

Make your own mistakes. In my own life, I am never as angry with myself – never – as when I follow the opinion or advice of someone else, against my own feelings and opinion (usually because of lack of belief in me), and then I turn out to have been right. That feeling is truly a bummer.

There’s a Bruce Springsteen song which I really like called “Long Time Comin'”. In it, he expresses the following wish for his child:

“Well, if I had one wish for you in this God forsaken world, kid,
It’d be that your mistakes’d be your own.
That your sins would be your own”

I reckon Springsteen got that right.

Please be kind to yourself,


About Michael Scott

Michael Scott is a life coach, author and teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. After spending 35 years in business - coaching found him - and he's never looked back. Michael uses his coaching training and experience, in the service of his clients, as their constant and loving guide towards joyous, fulfilling lives which are genuinely their own. He lives with his dear wife in Sausalito, CA.

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