Somehow I’ve created a career where I spend a lot of time giving advice and feedback. Whether it’s coaching, consulting, writing, speaking, or training, a big part of what people pay me for is guidance.
Which means that the last year has been quite a different experience for me as I’ve been on the other side of the advice pipeline.
Because when you have a new baby, you get a lot of advice.
All Advice Isn’t Equal
Whether they are your best friend or the person in front of you in the grocery store line, you’ll get stories and suggestions about what worked and didn’t work for them in the parenting department.
Here’s what I’ve realized about this advice:
- It’s almost always given from a place of generosity and kindness
- It’s almost always unusable.
It’s unusable because there are so many variables when raising a child. Every parent is different, every child is different, every context is different.
And maybe you don’t have the same goals as the person giving advice. (Which is why you shouldn’t take parenting advice from someone if you don’t like their kids.)
Filtering Out the Less Than Relevant
That doesn’t mean it’s bad advice, it just means that it’s not applicable. And if it’s not applicable, then it’s OK to filter it out.
So I filter the parenting suggestions through a few questions. Like:
- How close is my situation to the one the advice-giver is in?
- Do they have the same goals as I do?
- Is their approach and personality similar to mine?
If there’s close alignment, then I’m going to pay more attention. If the scenarios are vastly different, I’ll say thanks and stay the course.
That doesn’t mean that I only take the advice that resonates with what I already do. In fact, the best advice you’ll get is guidance that comes from a similar background, but that grates against what you are currently doing. That usually means there’s a growth opportunity.
Act on the Advice that Works
The key is rarely to get more advice. There’s no shortage of that, whether you are talking about parenting tips from your family or business advice from your LinkedIn newsfeed.
Instead, take all of the guidance you get and filter out what doesn’t fit for you. Then, and only then, take the most important step:
Because unused information looks just like ignorance from the outside, it’s important that you actually something with the advice that could work for you.
But then again, that’s just my advice.