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The Bad Thing About Good Advice

Good advice is seldom understood or appreciated.

And, I think that there's a good reason for that. The reason is that what makes for good advice is often viewed as a "bad" thing. 

Seth Godin recently wrote about the attributes of good advice. 

I was drawn to the posting I guess, because "good advice" is what I envision that I do.  And, because I am naturally inclined to learn and I can always benefit from good advice, so I read the posting to see what the takeaway would be. 

No matter what you do, be it advisor, parent, teacher, mentor or leader, I think that this piece has in it, a few "gems" I think we can all benefit from;

  • Good advice is not what you want to hear but what you need to hear
  • It is not imaginary, but practical
  • Not based on fear, but on possibility
  • Not designed to make you feel better, designed to make you better

Those points resonated with me. 

The problem however, remains this 

  • People are prone to want to hear what they want to hear, not what they need to
  • Absent a degree of "social" or other proof, fallacy masquerades pretty well as "fact" allowing for the imaginary to crowd out the practical
  • Avoiding fear prevents a relationship with the possible
  • Feeling better is usually going to be preferred over "making you better"

I see it all the time. 

If the original blog were the reality, there'd be more people planning their lives based on what needs to done, what's practical, what's possible and what will make them better. 

There just isn't much of that going on. 

There needs to be more. 





4 Steps to Better Decision Making

Chip and Dan Heath, authors of "Decisive" have a great model for making better decisions.  What's most impressive about their view on the matter is the fact that if you sit back and think about it a bit, it's a universal tool. It works no matter what decision(s) you have to make be it at work or at home, in your career or about a project. Rejoice, the world gives out too few universal tools.  

So, what are the four steps; 


The authors use the acronym WRAP

  • Widen your options
  • Reality test your assumptions
  • Attain distance before deciding
  • Prepare to be wrong

Sounds easy, but we almost never do it.  

It's a discipline we can all benefit from learning, even if you have to force yourself at first.  

It's like going to the gym, easy to do, hard to stick with. Everybody can decide to go the gym and you're 100% guaranteed of success, because deciding to go to the gym is easy, actually going to the gym's the hard part. Someone once told me that in a minute you can quit smoking, it's continuously quitting smoking that's the hard part.  

And, contrary to what you might think, more choices are better than too few. There's research that shows that having multiple options, perhaps two or three are best, all in process at the same time allows for you to be less personally invested in the outcome. That will help to automatically widen your options and the multi-tasking part helps to keep the personal investment in any one outcome from getting so high that you can't give it up simply out of fear of personal upheaval if you walk away from what you "knew" to be true.  

Here's a tip; next time you have a decision to make ask yourself what you'd do if none of your current options existed? That just might set you on the right track to removing yourself from the harrows of narrow framing. After all, as Dan and Chip note; "focusing is great for analyzing problems, but terrible for spotting them." 

There are literally hundreds of examples I could site from the personal finance realm that span the decisions from, "I can't afford to retire today" to "which college should my child go to."  

Better decisions bring about better outcomes, starting making them by reading Dan and Chip's book but if you can't do that, start realizing that you can control the decision making process by changing how you make those seemingly "inevitable" choices.  

And if all else fails, get some help, narrow framing often resolves itself when someone on the outside is looking at the issues you can't see, it's that forest for the trees thing that's been talked about forever. And, it appears, with good reason.  


Is What You "See" What You Get?

"Does goal setting work? Yes, but not the way most people seem to understand it. In my experience, the real value of defining desired futures is not so much in the world we describe, but the change in perception the process of setting goals fosters."  David Allen, Productivity Coach and founder of Getting Things Done (GTD) from is weekly email "Productive Living"  

I couldn't agree more. 

Build powerful visions of your future; that will help to make them a reality. Then go build it. 

Build powerful visions of your future; that will help to make them a reality. Then go build it. 

Wealth Management takes on many forms. For most of the profession and the public, (unfortunately) it's an effort to figure out why you should buy something and exactly what that purchase should be. It's a process that has at it's core when applied in this way, something that you need. Implicit in that mode of operation is the embedded notion that a product is going to solve your problems. "Purchase this and it'll set you free!"  Really? If buying financial products solved the problem, we'd have a lot more 1%'ers than we do. You see, the 1%'ers are the people who built the stuff that you should buy. You purchasing their stuff has made them wealthy, not you

When you can focus your energies working with someone who relies on you to enunciate the life that will make you happiest; then you are the center of the process. "What would you do differently today if money weren't an object?" There's nothing to buy...only the belief in change. 

Many will say that it does little good to ruminate in wishful thinking of that sort. And yet, we are, what we think. When we focus on life as we want it to be a subtle change takes place; we begin to open ourselves to the possibility that our dreams can in fact be our reality. Maybe not immediately, but over time. If you are what you think (and you are) then thinking that you're destined for greatness is going to attract a lot more positive outcomes than any of your other options. I don't know about you, but contrasting buying something and feeling "insured" as opposed to "on my way to making my dreams a reality" I'm voting for my dreams. 

"The reason for long-term goals is the permission they give us to identify with the greatest value we can so it changes our filtered perceptions. The future never shows up (have you noticed?-- it's always today!)"

That's another quote from David Allen who was talking specifically about Getting Things Done. 

As am I.