What should you look for in those from whom you seek counsel?

FOLLOWING ARE EIGHT THINGS to consider when you are seeking counsel from others – and in reverse when you find others seeking counsel from you.

1. Look for someone who CARES about you and what happens to you. If you seek counsel from those who care primarily about promoting themselves or getting money out of you, you are not likely to get good counsel. 

2.Look for someone willing to be COMMITTED AND INVOLVED.  You will benefit most from someone who is willing to spend the time and effort to understand you and your business; someone who is willing to walk with you through whatever you are dealing with; someone who is willing to stick with you for the long term; someone who is accessible and available in person whenever you need them.

3. Look for someone who will help you EMBRACE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. You are responsible and you will be held accountable for your words. thoughts, motives, and actions. You need counselors who will help you embrace this, not those who will act as wizards with magical answers or baby-sitters who will protect you from the consequences of your actions. You need counselors who will help you examine yourself and accept responsibility, not blame others – or your circumstances – for what you do. You need counselors who will help you make decisions, not make the decisions for you.

4. Look for someone who has PAID THE PRICE you are going to have to pay. You can learn the most from those who have already done what you are trying to do. For example, if you want counsel regarding building a business, you should not seek it from a government employee who has spent twenty years building seniority in order to retire with guaranteed income and benefits. Instead, you need to talk to someone who has built a business – maybe several businesses. 

5. Look for someone who has the WISDOM that you need. This wisdom should be real (tested and tried in the real world), not  facts, statistics, or theories from some textbook or website. You should beware of those who act like they have all the answers. And you should remember, the information you think you want is not necessarily the information you need. You may want superficial formulas or quick answers to solve problems or relieve pressure. You need to examine where you are and why, define and understand your options, choose the best course of action, and follow through with the decisions you make. Someone with an understanding of these things (what you need) will be of the most help. 

6. Look for someone who is OBJECTIVE. Objectivity here means a lack of prejudice or hidden agendas. Objectivity is important in three areas. First, the person you seek counsel from needs to be objective about you – an employee who depends upon you for a paycheck, for example, is not likely to be objective about you. Second, the person you seek counsel from needs to be objective about the subject of the counseling. For example, someone who sells a particular investment is not going to be objective about where to invest. Third, the person you seek counsel from needs to be objective about the results of your actions. If your actions are likely to affect the counselor (financially, personally, or publicly), then their counsel may be tainted.

7. Look for someone who has the integrity to SPEAK THE TRUTH. Many will flatter you, especially if they care more about your money (if you are paying them) or your approval (if they are your “friends”). Few will tell you the truth. Even fewer will be able to tell you the truth in a way that will help you.

8. Look for someone who will ENCOURAGE YOU to do what you should do. It does little good for someone to help you see the truth, if seeing the truth is depressing or leaves you without hope. And it’s not enough to have someone encourage you by patting you on the back and telling you that “you can do it.” You need someone who can give you reasons for hope in the midst of struggles. You need someone who can help you see why it is worth it to do what you should do – even if it will be difficult or painful. You need someone who is willing to stand by you (with you) as you proceed to do what you should do.

FINALLY, you should not rely on only one person for counsel – you should seek counsel from a number of different people who have different perspectives, experiences, and resources.

If you would like to see what this looks like in the lives of some or our clients, just click some of the items to the top right of this page.

If you are a business owner and you need counsel like this, please click “CONTACT US” at the top right of this page or call us at (503) 927-2750. If it seems appropriate, I will meet with you in person and discuss your needs without any charge.