Part of my “other duties as assigned” at Curry College where I head up our Communication Department‘s Public Relations Concentration is being available to students for advice and counsel. I do this “officially” for a couple dozen, “unofficially” for countless others. I share personal experiences, advice, and words of caution on a daily basis.
In that role, I’ve had conversations with three students just this week about changes they’re considering. Two were about a major change…transferring to another school; the other was about changing from one business-area focus to another.
As always, I asked in the course of our conversation, “Who have you talked with about this?”
I’m not being nosy. I just want to make sure that they are turning to others (besides me) for advice or a simple reality check. More often than not, the answer is “You’re the only person I’ve told about this except my parents.”
Talking to your parents is a good thing! You really don’t want to drop major surprises on them! Trust me…been there…done that…learned my lesson.
But I also learned that I needed to do some serious self-reflection in the process in order to be able to present my reasoning for doing what I planned to do. And, on occasion in the process, I changed my mind simply because I realized that what I planned to do was not a wise move.
We all like to feel like we’re adults and don’t need someone else to “tell” us what to do. But, believe it or not, you actually do…and it’s not “telling”…it’s “advising”…a BIG difference.
Successful business leaders don’t operate in a vacuum. They turn to others to get their take on thoughts, ideas, and plans. It can be as formal as a scheduled meeting or as casual as a quick chat in the hallway. Whatever the process, they’re getting another person’s input and benefiting from his or her own experience.
Getting someone else’s input doesn’t come easily or naturally to everyone. I’m notorious for coming up with ideas for PR programs, doing all the planning and organizing legwork, and then dropping the proverbial “’here’s what we’re doing’ bomb” on my co-workers. (Since this is a public blog, I won’t use the rather descriptive words that usually formed their responses!)
Bottom line here: Make your plans. Think them through carefully. Then turn to someone who you believe will understand what you’re trying to do and ask, “What do you think?”
Yes. You’re putting yourself out there by implying that you need others’ feedback to make a decision. But in the business world, that’s called “collaboration,” and that’s how you succeed.
The important thing to remember is this: “You’re not in this alone.”