Today my CPA visited for her quarterly review of my books. Like many CPAs, she provides business consulting in addition to traditional accounting services. Her clients, like mine, are primarily small business owners, entrepreneurs, and solo practitioners.
I always enjoy talking with her and picking her brain about what she sees going on in the local economy with small businesses. I find her insight and assessments of the local marketplace to be insightful and very accurate.
Today, as we were talking, I asked her what her biggest frustration with existing clients was. Without hesitation, she told me her biggest frustration was being asked for her advice and opinions and having her advice rejected, ignored and not acted on.
I ask her why she thought that occurred. Her response was that she felt the business owners and entrepreneurs that she had as clients allowed their ego get in the way of taking advice from someone whose assessment of their business was in conflict with their own. In other words, they found it hard to take advice from someone whose opinion differed from their own. She went on to say that she did not really think they wanted advice, but what they really wanted when they ask her for advice was reassurance from her that what they were thinking and doing was the right thing.
Her experience mirrors my own.
I have found that even when people pay me money for my sales training, sales management, or marketing advice they really don't want my advice. What they really want is some sort of affirmation that they are wise and wonderful.
They may tell me that they want me to shoot straight with them and that they would like for me to provide some measure of accountability for them to do what they need to do to grow their businesses. But I have found that what they say they want and what they really want are horses of a different color. This mental state is usually characterized by defending and justifying their position or saying something like, “yes but my business is different”.
Unfortunately, I can relate to that attitude and mindset because I used to feel the same way. For many years, as Frank Sinatra sang," I did it my way" and thought incorrectly that I was the sharpest pencil in the box. I found it very difficult to humble myself to taking advice from others. This personal need to be right costs me many millions of dollars in lost income. It was stupid and very shortsighted.
As I analyzed why I did that and was ruthlessly honest with myself about my motivation for doing so, I realized that my inability to take advice from others and to humble myself and admit that I wasn't as smart as I thought I was stemmed from a basic lack of emotional security masquerading as an inflated ego.
When I came to this unmistakable conclusion and confessed my shortcomings a great burden was lifted and I was able to not only accept and listen to advice from others, but I sought out the advice and opinions of others that I trusted.
And oh yes my income shot through the roof!