The Most Important Question You Can Ask When Seeking Advice

If you ask someone for advice about something you want to achieve and their first response is about the limitations, challenges and obstacles that may come up, you are looking in the wrong place. Move on!

Looking to others for validation, opinions and their personal experiences is not only normal it’s a wonderful way of relating that goes back to the beginning of time.  Relating to each other by sharing our dreams and aspirations along with our queries and quandaries is an important part of our life process.  And while there is an enormous amount of rhetoric about possessing all the answers within and seeking inside of yourself, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t explore and learn from shared experience.  It does mean however, that you should be mindful of what you are looking for in other people’s responses.

When we ask others for their opinions, we need to be aware that they are answering through the filter of their life experience. Those who see the glass half full may tell you things will work themselves out.  Those who see the glass half empty may tell you to be weary of the potential pits and falls. Quite often, people will answer from within their place of fear or limitations.  This means they will tell you why they never did something or how hard it will be for you because of how hard it was for them or for someone they know.  This is all valuable information if you can weigh your pros and cons objectively after these talks.  But if what you are looking for is someone to support your dream, you may need to carefully consider who and what you are asking specifically.

Following are some key things to consider when asking for advice?

1. Before you ask for an opinion, ask yourself what you are feeling about your situation? Check in. Are you excited, are you nervous, hesitant, scared? And see how these feelings are informing your decision to seek advice.

2. Ask yourself what you are looking for from another’s opinion? Before you choose who you are going to speak with, ask yourself if you already know where they are coming from?  We usually know who will root for us with optimism and who will root for us with caution.

3. Ask yourself why this person’s opinion matters to you?  This answer will give you a lot of information about the response you are seeking before you hear the person’s opinion.  So, if you respect them or look up to them, how would you respectfully approach your own process?  How would you act if you were the role model for someone getting through the situation you seek advice for?

4. Are you looking for support or someone to shoot you down?  We sometimes unconsciously ask the person that will give us the opposite of what we want so we don’t have to face the motions of our emotions ourselves.  Vet that!

5. Rather than advice, ask people how they achieved and how they overcame their obstacles.  This will allow a more neutral and investigative process that may help your path.

6. Finally, the most important question you can pose, is asking someone how they can support you in your process?  This takes courage and maybe some mutual exploration.  Some will surprise you by showing up. Others may opt out.  But this way you will know exactly where you stand.

The beauty of opinion is to remember that it is just that, a bias based on one’s worldview.  The opinion that matters most is the one you form based on your own life experience.  This means there will be risk and perhaps success or failure, but both lead to the human expression of the rich narrative of a life fulfilled.  What is your opinion? 

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