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um-062210-emailThis is an important question to think about when you’re asking someone to help you look into a situation that is bothering you. Do you want to be coached, get advice, or get feedback?

Recently, I thought someone wanted to be coached, but actually all they wanted was feedback and advice. It got me thinking, once again, about the difference. Feedback is information. It can take the form of thinking through what might happen if someone pursued a specific course of action, or it could be information about what already happened to be used as a basis for improvement. Advice is a recommendation given by someone you think is knowledgeable.

Coaching takes feedback/advice to another level. Coaching leaves you in action with specific timeframes, goals, and planned outcomes. Feedback is important. It can give you valuable information. But if you just talk about it, it may not be integrated into a course of action that changes the game.

Feedback with coaching requires commitment. If someone doesn’t do it, and you’re their coach, you can call them to account for the promises they’ve made. If someone doesn’t do it, and you gave him or her feedback or advice you could only say, “I told you so!” if matters got worse.

This really hit home when someone asked me for help recently, and I sat down with Jerry (not his real name) to help him think through what sounded like a conflict of styles. I thought he wanted resolution. He was clearly upset by the lack of communication, and what he perceived as power struggles with a co-worker. And you know what happened? Nothing! He got information from me about what he could do. And I realized something I haven’t thought about for years.

How could anyone mistake talking as action? Talking about something is not the same as doing something about it!

OK here it is. If your game is to just play the nice guy or gal, then you may wait and wait for the right moment to confront the situation. Or maybe your game is to get feedback in order to find agreement that you’re right! And you’ve forgotten in both cases that you’re not trying to defeat the other person, you’re aiming to defeat the problem. So what are you afraid of? You might be afraid that if you bring up your issues with another, they might have their own list for you! If you were truly committed to solve the problem, wouldn’t you want to identify and resolve all of it? Both what you’re aware of, and what someone else can bring to the table?

What’s required to do something about it? It’s very simple.

Make a decision to take action, and then do it!

Once you decide, and then follow through, your results will tell you whether you’re on course or off course. Pay close attention, and you can self- correct as you go. If you don’t ever take action, you won’t find out what works or what doesn’t work. But you won’t be alone; your companion will be the reasons why you’re right! I prefer human contact, a little conflict, and the possibility of an unknown resolution to the loneliness of reasons! Being right ties you to a range of thinking that can keep you stuck, as if your ankle was tied to a stake in the ground. This limits not only what you think is possible, it limits the action you can take to the length of the rope. How much rope or leeway do your reasons give you?

So here’s the practice this week.

1. Stop talking and start doing! What have you been talking about, and haven’t taken any action on … yet? Pull up your stake in the ground, and experience the freedom to think and act in new ways.

2. If you’ve been getting advice and feedback, stop and find someone to coach you only if you agree to play the game. Which means, you suit up to get on the field. In life you make the phone call or appointment, have the conversation, know what you want, make requests, and fulfill promises. You listen, consider, and tell the truth. You’re in action. Then you realize that you’re not talking about it anymore, you’re doing it!

3. The reward? Fulfillment is in the action you take right now. Misery is in the story you tell that replaces action! Don’t confuse stubbornness with strength. Listening, taking action, and overcoming obstacles require strength.

If you’re looking for commiseration, stay only with advice or feedback. If you want victory, look for a coach!

My love goes with you as you work with this Moment.

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