Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Listening to unlikely sources

Who do you go to for advice when you really need it?

Interesting quote from Serena Williams about the 2009 U.S. Open in this article from USA Today:

With the way things are going, some of the top women might be open to advice. Even the younger Williams listened to some unsolicited tips at Arthur Ashe Stadium. "I heard a guy in the crowd saying, 'Stop hitting lobs!' So I didn't hit any more lobs after that," she said with a chuckle. "My lob was not working today."
I love that she was actually listening to the crowd! I really thought professionals try to tune out anything but cheers.

I suppose tuning things out is difficult to do.

I wonder how many of us really have anyone to go to when something is pressing and you need to know: do I continue going this way, or take another path? I have asked different people in my life over the last 15 years to do this for me - to listen to my issues and help me think through them, to help me set life goals, etc., with mixed results. But it generally helped having someone to talk to that comes from a different vantage point.

I also think we need to be careful about handing out advice. Is your advice really what is best for them, or is it self-serving in some kind of way? Is it really the type of advice they need, or when they need to hear it?

I usually give the soccer parents for teams that I am coaching an opening lecture on not giving sideline advice during a game. Their direction may be contrary to what the coaches have asked the boys to do, and at best it is distracting them from what is going on. And frankly, the parents don't have the same vantage point that the boys or girls do (an eight-year-old in the middle of a game with a ball flying around and trying to remember everything from practice). But the best reason is that the boys or girls need to learn to make soccer decisions themselves come gametime rather than learning to follow constant directions. There is time for advice and time to just cheer.

Listen to unlikely sources - you may need to hear something that puts it in a different perspective. And provide advice carefully, when it is asked for - you may be more influential than you realize.

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