Are You Ignoring Advice Because You Know How You Work or Because Of Fear?

Have you ever been told you’re doing it wrong? Maybe not in so many words, but the thought was there? Usually, it’s from someone very well meaning who’s trying to say “If you do it this way, the way I did it, it will work better.” Instead of feeling a sense of hope and direction, did you feel like this person just didn’t understand you? Or worse, that maybe there was something wrong with you because their way just didn’t feel right for you?

I’ve had that experience. And then felt a bit like I was my own little island and everyone one else was on a boat yelling directions at me that I just didn’t understand or quickly became frustrated with.

If you relate, then know that you’re not alone.

I’ve been thinking about this off and on for several weeks. Why didn’t I get it? Why did [fill in the blank] come so easily to them and was so difficult for me? Even when someone gave me the steps?

The main problem was I work differently than they do.

I like focusing on one thing at a time. I really immerse myself in it and it can be difficult for me to change focus. Have you ever seen an old fashion juke box with actual records? When you change songs the record spins down, is put away, then the new one is found, put in place and spun up to speed so you can hear the new song. That’s how changing focus feels for me. It can take time for me to switch “songs.”

While other people get bored if they don’t have a lot of variety each day, I prefer to focus on one or two things. One is not better than the other, it’s just different. I know that when I’m planning my week, it’s better for me to group tasks around a particular project together. In the long run it saves me time and frustration.

Here’s where it can get tricky. Sometimes, when someone is offering a piece of advice or an insight from their own life and you tell them that their method is not for you, they might say (again, with the best of intentions) that you’re just afraid or hiding from something or even playing small. This is where it’s important to recognize if they are right.

Remember the story from last week? I had been told by various people that I needed to become comfortable making phone calls. Problem was it scared me. I know people who regularly make anywhere from 25 to 40 (or more!) phone calls each week. Thinking about doing that was intimidating. It was a fear response with a dash of “that is sooo not for me.”

After avoiding it for a while, I realized that I was avoiding making phone calls mostly out of fear. You can see what I did about it in last week’s article. The gist of it is that I created a solution that worked for me and it didn’t look like the solution other’s had suggested in the past.

So, it is one thing to know how you work and it is something completely different to use it as an excuse to play small. Many times those methods can be tweaked to work for you (make 10 phone calls instead of 30).

Trust your gut, or intuition, or whatever you call it. If the advice, task or goal is not right for you move on, but if it’s fear holding you back recognize that and decide how you want to address it. The secret is to know yourself and be willing to step outside your comfort zone in a way that works for you.