I am in a bit of a personal crisis lately, not the kind that I am allowing to get the better of me, but the kind that has me in a bit of quandary. It is an ongoing issue that has to do with my career, I am just not aligned with what I do. I am frustrated with myself, disappointed and most of all scared to take that big step.
What I need is some good ol’ fashioned advice, but it seems that is very hard to find.
Or is it?
As I scour my head trying to think of people that I could seek non-partial and non-judgemental advice from, someone who doesn’t have a stake in the decision that I will make, I find myself spinning in circles. I am surrounded by a lot of amazing people, many of whom I trust wholeheartedly, but for some reason, I don’t feel they are qualified for giving me solid advice. It is not their fault, I am just too arrogant to listen to them.
I have a problem, I am the problem.
Is it advice that I’m seeking or just validation?
Going way back into my childhood and adolescence, I have always had the desire to please those around me. In return for the good deed that I did, I would seek praise. Like a good soldier, I would request my next command and dutifully perform it to once again continue the cycle of adulation. I thrived on pushing myself to seek that kind word. While this quality always made me a very loyal and productive teammate, it didn’t serve to enhance my qualities as a leader. I could never take that next step.
So, here I am, mid-career, looking to take that next step to leadership, but I can’t. I am making a step into the unknown where nobody is there to catch me and tell me that I did a good job or even a lousy job. That has to come from within, but I struggle with finding that inner voice.
Advice or validation? Most often we believe that we are looking for advice from others, but in reality, we are only looking for validation of our thoughts. Someone who will agree with us and give us that push and perhaps give us a fall back if something goes wrong. Advice is not something you get from one person, it is given to us by a community of contradictory meanings, and it is up to us to fit the puzzle pieces together. Advice is not meant to validate what you already know, to pump your tires, cheerleaders are for validation. If you are validated continuously, then you will never learn to grow and in turn, lead a monotonous life.
Asking for and getting advice should always be uncomfortable, honest and open. Receiving advice should be just as challenging to do like the change you are trying to make. One of the most significant hurdles when it comes to receiving advice is to listen with intent and speak without dismission. When you dismiss the words that you are hearing, then all you are seeking is validation.
Validation is too easy to get, free to receive, but it’s easy to forget. Good advice is difficult to find, expensive to process, but it lasts a lifetime. Leaders listen to the advice, followers speak to be validated.