Business psychology

Soloist challenge: How to deal with advice

- December 8, 2014 2 MIN READ

I’ve recently had to reassess my soloist future as well as deal with people’s well-meaning but uninvited advice. Here’s my story.

Life has thrown a few curveballs of late. Two major pieces of work ceased due to the client’s financial status, a program I had written just didn’t sell (to be reviewed), and my landlord requested their property back for personal reasons.

And with that, I’ve had to stop.

And with stopping, I’ve had people wondering what the heck I’m going to do now.

My response, “Oh, well, I don’t know yet. I need some space. I need some time to think. I need the answers to come when I’m still.”

But lots of people don’t like stillness. Lots of people feel uncomfortable about stillness. They fill it with their advice, which is laden with their own values and judgments.

Advice I’ve received from trusted, respected loved ones recently:

  • “There’s no shame in giving up, just for a while, just until you get yourself back on track.”
  • “If I were you, I’d go back to working full time. Running a business is hard.”
  • “I couldn’t live like you do. No way. Money is much more of a motivator.”
  • “I think you should quit while you’re ahead.”
  • (And my favourite) “You’ve given it a red hot go. Maybe it’s time to be realistic now.”

With all due respect, take a hike.

I know it’s challenging for others to watch me struggle, but have they thought about how hurtful it is to be flippantly told to give up on my passion, like it’s a type of junk food?

Look, dealing with advice is a tricky business. People naturally want to impart their wisdom and ‘save’ you, ‘fix’ you or provide some much-needed ‘perspective’ (theirs!).

It comes from a well-meaning place and they want the best for you – through their own lens, of course.

My suggestions for handling advice

  • Turn it around
    Be ecological about the advice, but ask them this: “Have you ever wanted something so badly that you were willing to do whatever it took to make it work? And when you hit a bad patch, did someone tell you not to pursue it anymore? How did that make you feel?”
  • Stop them
    Be strong. To stop people from raining on your parade, say something like, “Hey, I really love what I do and I’m going to keep going. I’d really value your continued support in the process, if you can offer it.”
  • Reframe it
    To reframe the situation, propose this question: “If that’s what you’d do in my situation, good for you, but I’m going to take a different approach.” 
  • Smile and wave
    This is for the people who appear to be naysayers. Smile. Wave. THANK them and move forward, knowing in your heart that you’re doing the right thing for YOU.

Ask yourself this important question

If you: take people’s advice, stop fighting, give up, or accept less than what you’re hoping for according to someone else’s expectations, how will you feel in a year’s time? Two years’ time? Or 30 years?


Take people’s advice if you genuinely feel it’s the right advice for you, but if you don’t, use some of the above strategies to deal with the unsolicited guidance.

Now, over to you. What are your thoughts on how to deal with advice?

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"