Who’s Your Voice Of Reason?

I’m sure you’ve heard, “It’s lonely at the top.” Well, you don’t even have to be at “the top” to sometimes feel alone. Having someone(s) to talk things through can be a life-saver… or at least a sanity-saver.


I was reminded this week of the importance of having trusted friends and advisors in helping me navigate through a tricky situation and decision. I am self-aware enough to know that I’m FIERCLY INDEPENDENT. That can be good in a lot of situations, but it’s a quality with a dark side as well.

Here’s what I mean. Us independent-types are typically not very good at asking for help or accepting help when it’s offered. It’s really not because I think I know it all, (Lord knows I do not). For me, it’s about wanting to do things for myself…handle it on my own.

Bottom line, I don’t want to be dependent on others.

This behavior of not readily asking for or accepting help results in being on your own. People stop asking if they can help when they know the offer will be declined.

The other downside is missed learning opportunities due to not asking for help and hearing about new ways to tackle a problem.

Does any of this resonnate with you?

I know many senior executives unwittingly fall into this category. There is often an expectation that if you’re a senior executive, you know what to do and don’t need any advise or council.  FALSE!

The reality is there may be a fear of admitting you don’t have all the answers.

It may be that the issues you are dealing with are confidential and you don’t have access to an objective, trusted advisor.

OR…there is a strong independent-streak at work!

Regardless of the WHY, I want encourage you to seek out someone(s) with whom you can talk openly, be vulnerable and ask for help.

I’m blessed by the relationships I have in my life. Many of my professional colleagues are also coaches so it’s easy for them to shift into coach-mode. In a recent situation I was able to talk with two different colleagues/friends. They each helped by asking insightful questions, listening and playing back what they heard in my story.

Through their thought-provoking questions and honestly stating their observations, it became crystal clear what action to take. It’s what my gut was telling me to do but my head was getting in the way.

So…do you have anyone that can play this role for you?

If you do, take a moment to acknowledge how lucky you are. Let that person know how they contribute to your well-being!

If you don’t, think who you could ask. Maybe these descriptors will help you identify who the right person is for you:

  • Trustworthy
  • Good listener
  • Asks good questions – has a curious spirit
  • Not afraid to challenge you — is in no way, shape or form a “yes man” type
  • You enjoy spending time together

If no one comes to mind, you might consider using an external executive coach or mentor outside your organization. You may also consider serving someone else in this way and perhaps that person can become a sounding board for you as well.

We can all make better decisions when others’ perspectives are considered. Stop being so bloody independent, (“Martha”, a little self-talk) be willing to ask for help and appreciate the positive impact it can have in your life!

Martha Duesterhoft is a Parnter with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or connect via email at mduesterhoft@www.people-results.com.