I answer every email I receive. Every Sunday, I provide readers of my newsletter with the opportunity to send me their questions (a practice I shamelessly stole from Chris Brogan). When people ask me questions, I try very hard to give them answers that can help them.
Occasionally, someone is unhappy that I am unable to answer their questions with the kind of pointed, detailed answer that they need. Sometimes they are frustrated with me when I suggest that they get professional help (I imagine that their frustration is really about money).
It’s very easy to answer big, broad, thematic questions in a blog post or over email. Because the questions usually reveal some fundamental challenge, it’s easy to answer a question by sharing some principle. Answers around principles and fundamentals can teach you the questions that you need to ask yourself to figure out a potential course of action. This focus on fundamentals makes answers valuable, and they provide you with some guidance.
But real coaching and consulting isn’t accomplished through email or blog posts. When you need specific answers for your business, you need a more professional, more intimate relationship.
Good coaching and consulting requires context. It requires a deep understanding of where you are now and where you need to go. The person helping you needs to understand your culture, the personalities involved, your strengths, your weaknesses, what must change, and what must stay the same. They need to know you, and that’s why the intimacy is as important as the professional nature of the relationship.
The internet provides you with information, not insight. It provides you with knowledge, not wisdom. It provides you with ideas, not ideas that consider the exact context of your situation. It’s sometimes more expensive not to get the help you need than it is to spend the money.
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