The Difference Between Possibilities And Recomendations When Taking Business Advice

Here’s how I think founders, entrepreneurs, and CEOs should take any business advice, including any advice from me:

Consider everything you hear as an interesting POSSIBILITY to consider, including that which sounds like a RECOMMENDATION.

Including that recommendation right there.

The distinction between possibility and recommendation is critical.

There is a lot of recommending going on out there. In books, in accelerators, on LinkedIn, from mentors or investors.

“You should do it this way and you’ll win!” That’s a recommendation.

“Here’s an example or idea for you to look at and consider if some part of it is useful for you.” That’s a possibility.

Some general recommendations are useful and helpful.

General recommendations like, “Hurry up and find customers who will pay you and happily use your product before you run out of money.”

Laws of nature like that are pretty universal but not always obvious..

Founders should carefully consider (recommendation alert!) any general advice to understand if it applies to them right now in their situation.

Specific advice should be considered more deeply. Recommendations that start with “For you, right now, given your situation, you should probably…” from an experienced person who knows you.

But even then, taking that recommendation, or any part of it, is totally up to you.

All advice is just a possibility until you decide it’s a recommendation that is useful.

That’s why we are entrepreneurs. So we can take all the recommendations of what people “should do” as just possibilities to consider.

My wife really doesn’t appreciate this about me.

When she tells me, “Go to the store and get this” I hear that as a possibility to work with.

  • “Can I go later when I’m running other errands?”
  • “What are you trying to accomplish with that thing?”
  • “Is there a better way to get it cheaper or easier?”

I just don’t hear “Do this now like I said” in the way that she expects. It’s clear to her, but to me, it’s something to work with.

Don’t worry, I’m working on it and getting better at it with her.

I try to be open to possibilities all the time. To create new possibilities if I’m stuck.

And I sort the recommendations very carefully.

  • Is this a general rule that can’t be defied?
  • In which situations is that really useful?
  • What are all the ifs and whens when it would work best?
  • What lens are they seeing the world through to make that recommendation?

The most experienced entrepreneurs have learned to think differently than most people:

  • They are much more OPEN to any possibility coming from any example, conversation, or data. They consider a lot of possibilities, but they don’t have to accept or act on any of them.
  • They sort very hard and consider VERY FEW things as useful recommendations they should integrate and act upon, knowing that their situation will change and so will the recommendation.

That’s how I see it. How do you see it?


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