15th February 2018

Advice and Information

As business leaders and business owners we are likely to seek advice and to look for information. Some research has shown that small business owners look for advice from their accountants According to the Open University Small Business Annual Survey (2013, 2012 and 2009).

This is a hopeful sign, at least there is the recognition that someone out there might have a better answer or that someone out there may have come across this before. These are signs of the start of an open mind. But only a start.

Advice and information have their uses, but also their limitations. Knowing what worked for someone else is OK but it doesn’t mean that it will work for me, in my specific situation at a different moment in time. I may not have the skills, or the personality or the aptitude to execute the specific strategy that worked for someone else with different skills, a different personality and in a different context.

In my experience it only takes two things to become better. The first is an open mind, to be prepared to absorb and accept different ways to do anything. The second is a huge amount of courage to dare to do something different. The second of these requirements is by far the hardest to achieve.

Great coaching does not consist of giving advice, it is about creating adult behavioural change.

Great coaching does not consist of giving information it is about creating transformation. It is less about what we know than what we do with what we know.

One of the differences between great coaching and training or teaching is in the outcomes. The difference that makes the difference comes from not what we know but what we do with what we know. There are thousands of business people with MBAs who are struggling in their business or their job. I know I coach lots of them. The British MBA is generally a top notch academic qualification, but knowing how to do any complex task does not mean that you will necessarily be a great practitioner.

Personally, I took a post graduate business course at Durham University Business School.  I learned a lot but it didn’t change my behaviour at all. What needed to change was me, not just my knowledge. My behaviour needed to change, I needed to change for the business results to change. When I did, they did. So, I think within the set of people who are prepared to ask for advice or information, there is a subset who are prepared to learn and within that there is a subset who are willing to do something, to apply, to change, to develop. They are the people for whom success is more likely to come more easily and effortlessly. Perhaps that is why success is such a comparative rarity.

The great thing is though that success, however you choose to define it, is available to all.

As Jim Rohn said, ‘Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development’