Over the weekend I put myself to bed with a bedtime story—a small read called Together is Better—A Little Book of Inspiration by Simon Sinek. Turned out it was a good read and I thought I would share since we’ve got some Simon Sinek fans in the house. Most people know Sinek from his TED talk “Start with Why”, the third-most-watched TED talk of all time. Others know him from his talk explaining “Millennials”, or his other books Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last.
Sinek’s little book Together is Better hit popularity earlier in the year, but I only just pulled it down from the shelf. Have any of you read it? The format of this book is that of a story, with illustrations following the adventures of three friends. The story is a metaphor for our lives and the work we do, and our roles as leaders. At the end of the story, Sinek expands upon a couple of the concepts presented.
The entire read has merit and it is hard to say any one concept is bigger than the others. But one thing that stuck out was this passage: “When we are closed to ideas, what we hear is criticism. When we are open to criticism, what we get is advice.” P. 46. Huh. That’s spilling some hard-hitting truth, Sinek. Sinek further expanded: “Very often we will offer well-intentioned advice to someone and they take it as criticism. Our temptation is to defend our advice, or worse, find ourselves sucked into an argument.” P. 128. Sinek offered that if someone takes our advice as a criticism, it could be because of the delivery, or it’s touching a nerve, or there’s something the person is insecure or unsure about. Or it could be the “twelfth time they’ve tried to fix it”, causing them to get defensive.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been that person that heard “criticism” from someone else for any of those reasons! (Jennifer raises hand). Raise your hand if someone didn’t quite react the way you thought when you offered some advice? (Jennifer, again, raises hand) It’s human nature. As Sinek suggests, if your well-intentioned advice gets taken as criticism, exercise some empathy and consider what may be causing the reaction. If you’re the one receiving the advice, consider how you’re filtering it and contemplate the giver’s intent.
So, that’s today’s food for thought. If you have a chance, pick up a copy of Together is Better. It’s a thought-provoking little read that is, well, good advice :).