On Boundaries…

In my family, when we were kids, we were taught to respect everyone’s personal space. This meant keeping a fair distance unless invited closer, not asking extremely personal questions, and keeping our noses out of other people’s business. Moreover, under no circumstances were we to ever ask anyone for money, or about money.

Then, we grew up, and found people invading our personal spaces, asking us to divulge private information about ourselves and our families (both original and new), and running live commentary on everything we do with our education, careers, mortgages, family decisions, etc.

I am therefore a firm believer in boundaries, while maintaining community. 

I often work with young adults who are trying to choose an academic path. They ask me what they should do. They ask their parents what they should do. They ask teachers and friends what they should do. Sometimes, they resort to online discussion forums and ask strangers what they should do.

My advice always is: take your parents’, teachers’, and counsellor’s advice into account, ignore everyone else, and then make the decision that you feel right about.

This becomes more and more crucial over time. Not all advice is good advice. A select few people should be your guides; choose them wisely, and be sure that they are advising you towards your personal truth. A good coach helps you succeed by capitalizing on your strengths and ambitions. Choose the mentor wisely, then pick and choose the advice that aligns with your personal values, and finally do what you feel right about.

Shouldn’t be too difficult, right? Haha. Easier said than done. By nature, human beings seek out social acceptance, and our people-pleasing tendencies can often get in the way of our own goals.

I’m learning every day that I need more boundaries. At this stage in my life, everybody is a wise guy. People are standing in line to tell me what I’m doing right or wrong, without being consulted. I do not have to ask someone how I should decorate my home in order for them to feel obliged to tell me what they think about my kitchen back-splash. I don’t have to ask them how I should dress to give them the green light to tell me what they think suits me. I don’t have to ask anyone when I should hit the milestones of life for them to come up with a life plan for me.

But… let me tell you a secret…

Are you ready for this?

(Pssst…. The truth is………………… everybody is winging it!)

When you select who to choose as a mentor, who to listen to, whose book/blog to read, whose podcast to listen to, or who to hire as a life coach, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. Is this person qualified to advise me on the matter? Qualification is best measured not by academic degrees, but by proven successful implementation of the advice. If I want to be a hotel manager, should I be seeking advice from a star chef? No. I should be asking a successful hotel manager. Common sense, right?
  2. What are this person’s intentions? As in – are they really seeking to help me, or do they stand to benefit in a way that may compromise the integrity of their advice? For example… if you earn a promotion and your boss tells you not to take it because of reasons X, Y, Z… is the boss seeking out your own good, or his/her own?
  3. Does this person share my values? There are many roads to Rome. One person may advise you to achieve wealth by maximizing the potential of the gig economy, while another may advise you to steal. You may achieve your financial goal either way, but by compromising your moral values through theft, you compromise your soul. How many dollars is a soul worth?

Set boundaries and be picky about what advice you choose to remember and use. Choose what speaks to you. As for the rest, in one ear and out the other, because the truth is: everybody is winging it!

Any mentor who tells you otherwise is lying to you, or is too arrogant to accept that they can be wrong about everything.

I can be wrong about everything. You decide.

And remember… we design our own luck!


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