Do you have someone in your life that is always asking you for advice, but they never take it? Many of us have an example of a person, maybe a friend, coworker, or significant other that constantly asks for our advice and ignores the opinions that we give. This is an incredibly frustrating scenario because you feel like you’re investing a lot of time and thought into this person’s life for it just to be for waste. What if you could influence others without them asking?
Some people have a natural ability and desire to inspire change in those around them. They see a barrier or challenge that is keeping someone from progressing to the next stage of his life, and they want and need to help solve this issue. In some situations, the obstacle to one’s success might actually be himself. People that have the gift of exhortation are keen to perceive these issues and help that person break down the barriers that hold him back.
If this doesn’t sound like a characteristic of your behavior, think about the people in your life to which you go to vent your frustrations. Some of these people are not happy to just listen to you vent. They immediately throw out several solutions to your problem. Welcome or not, these people are solvers, and they need to provide you with solutions.
I remember as a teenager getting frustrated with my mom because she’s a solver. I would go to her with the problem wanting her to just listen and validate my frustrations, and instead in her head she’s putting together an action plan of how to solve the issue. Now in my adult life I actually really appreciate this trait of hers, but at the time I didn’t know how to use it as a superpower.
This gift of exhortation is a really important skill to have as a manager. If you don’t have it now and you see yourself managing others in your future, take the time to develop this skill. Your direct reports are not going to want you to just listen to their problems. They will look to you to solve their challenges. Similarly, whether your children like it or not, you should use this ability with them as well. Especially for young children, they are still developing their problem-solving abilities. I’m not saying that you need to solve all of their problems for them; it’s healthy to develop survival skills at a young age. But there are situations that your children will not be prepared for, and you need to be extra-perceptive to notice their challenges and help them with solutions.
Think about challenges those around you are facing. Do you take the time to notice their struggles? If the answer is no, make it a priority this week to look around at the people in your life and discover ways that you can ease their loads. You might find out that you are actually causing a very solvable issue for them, or you might just help alleviate another stressor in their lives. Either way, I think you will find it to be a beneficial and productive activity that will help someone else and grow your skills at the same time.