Don't listen to me

Whenever I hear the same thing more than twice in one week, my ears perk up. Wait, is that for me?

The answer is usually yes, but it isn't always clear why.

Case in point, this week's message:  Don't listen to other people.

I can't remember now where I heard it first, maybe on Twitter. I don't remember because at the time it didn't seem like a message meant for me.

Thing is, it stayed with me for some reason. Well, I know the reason but I'll get to that. Days later I could still hear it faintly repeating in my mind.

Then I read a presentation from Hugh MacLeod of gapingvoid. Among the suggestions he made to creatives who have big dreams of being successful but are not sure how to make it a reality was, you guessed it, to not listen to anyone else.

This recent cartoon of his is another way of putting it.

Second time was the charm. When I saw Hugh's presentation, I knew it was a message meant for me.

Why? Because I have been wasting a lot of time listening to other people lately.

Worse than that, I've been making up what other people might say if I told them my idea and took their responses to heart.

So that means I've been wasting my time listening to the part of me that's so scared it's now begun making things up in order to convince me not to move forward into the unknown.

Why should I not listen to anyone, and therefore you not listen to me either?

You. Know. Better.

Your instincts are better than what anyone else could come up with. That includes doctors, lawyers, parents, spouses, and best friends. They all mean well, and think they are advising you with your best interest in mind.

But they don't know. You do.

What do you know?

You know your body, and what's happening inside your body (even if you don't know why yet). You know what makes you happy. You know what brings you comfort. You know when you're really ready to make a change, and when you're just placating other people.

There's more, but you get the idea.

Now there's a lot you don't know too, like which medication to prescribe yourself or insurance policy to buy, or even where you'll be in five years if you make this decision right now.

Other people don't know those things either. They are making guesses, some educated and some not. Advice-givers tend to sound like they know what they are talking about, but that's it. They sound good.

Where does that leave us?


1.  Trust yourself.

When you're not sure what to do next, quiet time listening to yourself...or just quiet time...will give you the best answer for you.

Maybe that quiet time will not involve a bolt of lightning with the words, "Lauree, Do This," attached to it. Unfortunately that doesn't always happen, even when you really, really wish it would be that obvious.

Quiet time instead could help you drown out the voices in your head that aren't yours. It's amazing what peace a lack of other voices can provide.


2.  Wait to tell other people.

They aren't going anywhere, so we need a plan for them too. The best advice I've seen for handling other people is to wait to share your idea until you're really clear on it yourself.

Most of us do the opposite, share early to brainstorm with or gather buy-in from the people we trust most. This doesn't mean you should never tell them, or that they won't ultimately love and support your decisions. This is just about timing.

Giving yourself time to sit with a new idea before sharing it allows you to get used to it first.

Then when you talk about it, the idea doesn't feel as strange and new as it did when you first thought of it. You've acclimated to it.

Once that happens, other people's opinions are just their opinion, which you can consider from a safer distance.


3.  Don't listen to me.

Now, I realize that all of this may seem strange coming from a coach, so let me be clear.

I don't want you to listen to me either.

My job is to help you listen to yourself.

It is. Any coach who gives you advice is not coaching you. If I do that, feel free to call me on it.

I don't know any more than the other well-meaning people in your life. I believe that your instincts will lead us to what's best for you.

This is your choose-your-own-adventure story and I can't wait to see where we go next. Listening to me (or anyone else) would be a lot less fun for everyone involved.

So if you ever hear any of us in your head, feel free to say Shush.