Don’t discount gut-feeling

Heard at an event this past week: “I got feedback after my last presentation… so I am going to spend more time on slide three.”

I will leave my issues around the incongruity of using the slightly archaic and numbing powerpoint to discuss technologies that are forever changing the face of media, and move straight to the fact that the presenter really shouldn’t have listened to that advice.

I am sure for some slide three was fascninating, but for me, and judging by much of audience, it was a busy mish mash that had too much information on it to read, and obscured the story being told.

And that brings me to my topic for this week – not all advice is good advice, so why do we feel compelled to take something on board, just because someone else says it? Does that make it better, or more insightful, than our own thoughts?

Advice is a prickly old thing. It can be well-meaning, unsolicited or something we seek out from trusted associates; but here is the rub. Unless you have a good sense of your own position and reasoning before you seek it, what you hear can totally send you off track. It can also clarify and add value to whatever issue you are facing – but it is the destructive kind that I want to delve into.

Today’s times will send many out in search of advice. What do you think about this idea? Should I go there? Is this the best thing to be doing? When I was presenting at the SmartCompany seminar on “Sales and Marketing in a Downturn”, all the questions were looking for advice on what to do.

But the problem is that for every question there are hundreds of answers, because it is never one size fits all – your situation and set of circumstances, your goals and passions, your history and past decisions. Your business is just that – yours. And while there may be some general principles that can apply across the board, only one person really knows your situation – you.

I am certainly not advocating that people don’t ask for advice, but be prudent. Here are some ideas that might help you avoid getting caught in the mire of well-meaning advice.

  1. Put a series of trusted advisers in place: People who you can go to who know you and your situation, and who you can go to at any time.
  2. Limit the number of people: Too many opinions and different perspectives and all you get is confusion not clarity.
  3. Have a sense of your own position: Or at least explore your own throughts before you seek out other’s opinions. Even if the advice you get changes your thinking, you will have a better sense of where you are going.
  4. Give yourself time to think things through: Even if your first knee-jerk response turns out to be the one you go with, always stop and take a breath before you act.

As a good friend once told me when I was in a quandry – trust your gut. This one above any other guide has saved me many times, and I can honestly say that the only decisions I have truly regretted in my career are when I allowed advice from others to overrule my gut feeling on something.

But whether you go with your gut, make careful lists, get opinions and thoughts from everyone you know, or just check with a few close advisers – the most important thing to remember is that not all advice is good advice and sometimes you just have to have a little faith in yourself.

See you next week.



Alignment is Michel’s passion. Through her work with Brandology here in Australia, and Brand Alignment Group in the United States, she helps organisations align who they are, with what they do and say to build more authentic and sustainable brands.

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