Freelance life isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. As I sat beneath the grey of pre-dawn light staring at the ceiling, I mulled over some advice I’d received. The advice wasn’t faulty. Indeed, the idea was genuinely intriguing. And yet, I found some niggling burning string of resistance.
It burnt and sizzled against me. I felt annoyed at the advice. I felt intruded upon. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why.
I thought about old bosses and business mentors I’d encountered and how much I’d love learning from them. How much I had chased the opportunity to improve and excel under their watchful eye.
That explanation didn’t suffice and the uncomfortable feeling raged on.
I was about to I write the sensation off as ego or old dog syndrome. Seconds before I did, my mind finally snapped around the delicacy of the real reason why I felt so maligned.
I was told what I could do to be better. I wasn’t inspired to do my best.
Realising this subtle difference, I felt myself let go. There wasn’t something wrong with me at all. It was the way the advice was delivered.
It’s a simple distinction, but one that makes dealing with this here freelance life so much easier.
Inspiring another versus fixing someone
We all want to be valued. We like it when people like us for who we are and respect our talents. Recognition of your efforts is a fantastic feeling. Seeing potential, admiring a gift and some sweat- it’s all complimentary. To have someone invest in you enough to help you with feedback is wonderful.
There’s something magical about the way a person who believes in you treats you. Whether it’s a mentoring, learning or peer recognition situation, you can feel the respect. It makes you warm inside and it makes you strive to reach greater heights. To grab onto challenges and see how far we can stretch. And yes, to see admiration from the person who has spurred us on.
But we’re not fond of someone trying to fix us.
Sizing someone up as a renovation project elicits the opposite response.
That’s what telling and informing does. And it can be quite insulting. It lacks the respect and bond required to share the information needed to make the change.
Plus, it limits the scope to the teller’s vision. It doesn’t allow for discovery or growth.
It is teacher to student. But not the encouraging or inspiring style of relationship we crave.
As caring, sensitive and inspired beings, we want people to invest in our success. We do not want them yelling instructions from the bleachers. Freelance life is hard enough without having someone in your head eroding the confidence you need.
Don’t take advice from someone who’s position you don’t want to be in
There are a million digital tigers roaming the internet. Each of them has the best way for you to do this or the approach that best conquers that.
But what is the motivation behind fixing these problems you didn’t even know you had? Is it for you and your issue? Or is it because the person over in the next virtual cubicle has launched something else?
The digital tigers continue to roam, but it doesn’t mean they’re happy.
And yet the advice rolls on.
When you choose the freelance life, it’s you that’s accountable. Your arse is on the line. And it’s you that has to deal with the consequences.
Remember that because it will help you bat away the advice that isn’t right for you.
Don’t see the potential. Foster it
Part of freelance life is giving advice to our clients. After a while, we start thinking we’re capable of giving advice to other freelancers.
That doesn’t always mean we should.
The practical application of an idea is far more valuable than the theory on the page. You may test the hypothesis. You may take the rules set down by what you expect to happen.
But don’t bemoan the student who doesn’t follow your well thought out advice. Find a way to reach them.
Work with someone to discover their challenges. Don’t expect them to walk the same path as yours.
Instead of saying “you should do this”, mind your language.
Save your life lesson.
Believe in them. Find out what makes them tick.
And inspire them towards a better result. Share the glow of the warm belief in your abilities.
Don’t you agree?