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We are currently living in a culture where quick fixes are on the rise. Look, this works well in situations where we need to produce processes, products and sometimes coffee. Where quick fixes does not work, in my humble opinion, is relationships, learning and human empowered interactions.
Have you noticed how quick we are to jump into solution mode when friends asks for help on a particular challenge? One friend asked me the other day to provide my opinion on leadership and current challenges in their workplace. Firstly, my mind went shooting neurons and electrical pathways all over the show to gather all the knowledge and experience I have with the subject under scrutiny. As if, I had The Flash up there in my dome, my mind provided me with an array of solutions to the problem.
Did I take some time to consider why the person is in this particular situation? Did I ask questions in order to gather more data before jumping to conclusions and possible solutions? Hell No. Why is that?
After some much reflection, I realized that my thinking rotated around selfish reasons. All ME.
- What is my experience with this subject?
- What is my assumptions and filters?
- How have dealt with it in the past?
- How will I look if I can dish out a tailor made solution to this person?
All selfish reasons.
Do I feel guilty because of this? NOPE. It provided me the opportunity to reflect on my thinking and put in place behaviours and actions that can help me to stop it and be present.
Why do we act so selfishly when we need to provide someone with solutions?
Let’s go back in time. In a conversation that Socrates had with Glaucon, he says that people will only do the right thing because they fear being punished if they get caught. If human actions were in a situation where others cannot observe, Glaucon says, even the most “just” man would act for himself. Hmmmmm….interesting.
In reacting selfishly, like I did, I think we accomplish a couple of things that boosts our own egos:
- I feel like I am the “ishhh”.
- I am the person with all the answers.
- I don’t have to be vulnerable and allow you to see that I don’t have a clue about what’s going on.
- I can protect myself from not being caught.
This fear of not being CAUGHT is a real big deal. There was a study done a couple of years ago that talked about this fear of being caught out. Apparently, this fear is plaguing the professional industry. It cuts across all levels of education and positions in the professional world.
Maybe this fear is the exact assumption that is driving our behaviour when we respond to someone seeking advice. Simply put, it tells us that we are not worthy of being an adult. This is obviously BS on many levels.
It does not only hinders us from being vulnerable and reaping those benefits, but it motivates us to manipulate and sneak through events in our lives. It also takes away the opportunity to learn and develop.
So how can we react in a more selfless manner when someone approaches us for advice or support?
Here are some tips that can help.
- Ask the individual some thought provoking and mind shifting questions.
- What are your potential outcome you are hoping to achieve?
- What would it mean for you if you reach the desired outcome?
- What are some of your values that is currently under threat?
- Remove yourself and your own ideas regarding the best solutions.
- This might come as a bigger challenge than you think. However, if we are more self-aware in the situation we will start to notice when our own assumptions comes into play.
- Stay away from narratives such as “What would I do if I was in this situation”.
By doing this, we would be able to provide the advice seeker with the opportunity to think for themselves and become self-sufficient. A competency that we have neglected in the last couple of years.