In the film The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009) there’s a scene where the Mayor’s counsel briefs the Mayor hastily on a press conference he’s required to make a statement at. Not only is the Mayor at odds with the task at hand, given the ransom demands for $10M, he’s plain egotistical, to which the advisor retorts, “Stop being selfish and...” (getting him back on track in a high pressure situation).
It was a flash before me right at that instant—an enduring image from the film. This is what advising is actually about in this situation above and in all situations. It’s about two things—discernment first, then courage to advise in truth. The Mayor’s counsel discerned the barriers and then dealt with them, in truth, eliciting courage.
And this follows a general two-stage theory for action in this life which I’ve mentioned before. We all must generate self-awareness before we can do anything. Then we must actually carry it out. It’s the theory of action in life.
ONE: Discernment to See Truly
Call it awareness even. Whatever it is, it’s the ability to see through the given situation and determine the available and valuable truth which is discernable. This is a key.
If we can be open to see, if we free our minds and hearts for this activity—removing the self-induced blocks to seeing, we can see so much. Sure, we can easily see what’s not there... it often takes a lot of practice and an attendance to feedback and others’ body language to see correctly.
It also requires honesty of us to be at truth to the self-induced “blockers” brought in from our past or our perspective—and to deal with same.
TWO: Courage to Act
It’s no good “seeing” the truth if we never act on it, or worse, if we see it but we somehow screw up the message when we’re advising the person/people we’re supposed advise.
And the latter is often the mistake made. We give the message wrong because we either weren’t disciplined enough to receive it correctly or we ‘stutter’ in our delivery—nerves getting in the way (i.e. advisors work for some pretty high profile and powerful people). It pays to have the courage to see everyone as a person, not some high-roller. We must talk with everyone exactly the same, not being overawed by the person in our midst.
Advising is a key role in today’s rapidly changing society. Wise people will seek and listen to advisors; people who are good at both discerning and telling them the truth. When we get our opportunities and we succeed at both, there’s the thrill of having served in a very special and discreet way, often toward some very major undertakings.
© S. J. Wickham, 2009.