You just need to take initiative.

So a disclaimer, often I write on medium because I feel I can be a bit more conversational. This means it is more personal, and often what I write is based on interactions with clients, staff and peers. So if you are reading this… it might apply to you.


What inspired this

So I had a thought-provoking question a while back here is the exchange.

QIn your opinion, what’s the most important qualities for you in a (coaching) student?

AInitiative, Often clients ask me questions where I’ve written about that topic, or I posted a podcast that addresses that issue. I really want clients to take their questions and try to answer it themselves, by reading or something, then let’s discuss what you found or where you can find more. I’m not a high school teacher and if students don’t learn how to find an answer then they’ll be lost when I’m not around…

That’s what this is about, if you want to learn something go out there and learn, if your first response is to ask a question then you’ll always need others to progress in your life.

Here is the problem

Many people have been working for years to learning and reading everything related to their topic of expertise, this position as an authority comes with a downside: silly questions. I wanted to say stupid, but I shouldn’t.

Now the problem isn’t with being asked a question, I love when people ask me a challenging question, It’s great when an informed person comes with research and asks me for input. This is why I enjoy doing what I do because my clients ask me really difficult questions at times, which makes me think and research.

The problem lies with clients who believe the quickest way to get to the answer is to ask a question, and it probably is, but you won’t learn if you just get handed the answer. So here is a simple example: What is 4–3? Now being told the answer just leaves you with the answer.

The quality of your question determines the quality of your answers

So how can it be better?

Let’s stick to simple math you learnt when you were 6…

Now what most people expect is to be taught how to arrive at the answer, which is fair you spent 12 + years in a learning environment which is more correctly referred to as a teaching environment. which was fine, but now that you are in a professional self-driven industry the responsibility to learn falls on your shoulders (scary hey?) So you want a teacher and that is fine…

However! I promise you anyone who can be seen or described as an authority or expert is self-taught, at least to the level where they are now. Yes, training content can get you somewhere but there is no book that will teach you everything you need to know to be like Elon Musk. Respect that this is their perspective, so by flat-out asking a question they spent months researching and testing might discredit their hard work, at least in their head.

So here is my suggestion, if you want to interact with an expert and get their advice, seek advice, not answers. Go to them and ask for their perspective on 4–3=1, why wouldn’t 2 be the answer? Show you have taken the time to learn and discover the answer for yourself you just want insight. Likely you’ll have a far more beneficial conversation when you seek advice instead of answers.

Here are a few practical bits for you.

Research

I at times feel bad for this but I love sending a screenshot of Google search results for a question. Another tool is LetMeGoogleThatForYou

So take a look on google, search for a book, podcast, video, blog.

Learn

Take some time and consume the content you find.

Formulate an opinion

Process and think about what you have learnt so you can discuss an opinion.

Discussing opinions or ideas is a sure fire way to learn something you can only find in a conversation.

That is probably the crux of this post if you go to the table and discuss an idea, you are far more likely to end up in a conversation where you are learning about something you cannot find online.

My Rant

Here is the short of my pain. I am happy to teach you about something, but by the time I have condensed 2 years of marketing research down to 10 minutes, and you take another 5 minutes to formulate a good question or opinion I have left the conversation (if not physically, mentally.)

Not much has been handed to me from a knowledge perspective, it’s 2230 I’ve been up for 16 hours and while I write, I am watching a training course. I have built my life around persistent learning, I am either very actively reading a textbook or passively listening to a podcast or a book.

I do not expect you to do the same, but if you can’t take 5 minutes to read a blog post about a topic then how much will you respect my answers?


In summary

There is a lot of theory out there, and I believe all theory should be free or near to free. But it is up to you to take the time to learn something. If you truly want to get the best out of a conversation take an opinion.

Great minds discuss ideas.