Why One Type of Advice Doesn’t Fit All

By Nicki Gilmour, Executive Coach and Organizational PsychologistNicki-Gilmour-bio

When I am writing this column I go through a range of emotions due to the fact that any article giving advice is just an opinion. It is easy to be opinionated, to live in the dogma of the binary of this way or that way, but it’s often not that useful for the person on the receiving end.

The best that I can do is base the advice on a combination of expertise, research and intuition. However, I do not know you personally, I do not know what your specific situation is that you need advice around. I also do not know the environment you are operating in, nor the developmental frames or mental models that you have accumulated through your own interpretation of your experiences during your life until this day. I do not know your reactions to bad bosses, stress,  wins, systemic gender issues . My point is, this is the internal diversity that matters to you in your career advancement, the cognitive and emotional differences and capacities that every human has, not the just the social identity version of diversity that is touted in companies which way too often feels like Noah collecting animals for his Ark.

We are all a product of our ability to self-reflect on our conscious thoughts and actions. The unconscious beliefs we all hold are harder to access as they are unknown to us but often hold in place competing agendas that stop us from achieving our goals via behaviors that are not aligned with goal attainment. I have mentioned Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey’s book Immunity to Change a couple of times in this column. They don’t know who I am, this is one of the few books I wax lyrical about, but I can honestly tell you their work is a must read for anyone who is wondering how to really get to why some of those goals and resolutions around career, fitness, family are still outstanding. I just wrote a paper integrating their work with the Columbia Coaching Program Process, as it is my firm belief that unless you access the murky unconscious of how you construct your big assumptions, and say them out loud to yourself to check for validity, your self-efficacy around goal setting for you as an executive can’t be totally effective- even if you are the most motivated person on the planet.

So, this week instead of telling you to do this strategy or that strategy, I am going to ask you to think, pre-holidays, about what you want to achieve in the next 12 months and then to look long and hard at what you are currently doing to reach those goals. Not the should or ought to do but what you are doing or not doing. Then ask yourself whats really going on? What is your competing agenda hidden in all of this?

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