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This fall, I’m playing on two Ultimate frisbee teams: Freakshow, and Golden Girls.

On Freakshow, I’m middle of the pack—a good player, but not the star.  I have more experience than a lot of the players on the team, though, and having been captain of East Van Halen for a few years, and an ultimate player for 22 years (insert obligatory guffaw here) I feel like I have a fair amount to offer.

“Well, I’m off to astonish the world with more feats of adequataqaticism.” - Bill MacNeil, Newsradio

On Golden Girls, I’m bottom of the team.  Not the worst player every night, but not the toughest player nor the most accurate nor the ... well, let’s not count the ways I’m not the best.

Additionally, I’m not as familiar with the Turf-style game, 5-on-5, that Golden Girls play.

This gives me the ability to study one particular aspect of the sport from two different angles each week. On Monday, I’m given advice, directly and indirectly, all the time.  And on Saturday, I’m giving advice, individually and to the group. And here are a few things I’ve learned…

“Very adequately sir, I’m virtually bursting with adequatulence.” - Bill MacNeil, Newsradio

1. When giving advice, nothing is more frustrating than the person who says they’re already trying to do that thing but can’t.  It’s far better to be contradicted that your advice is wrong, than be told, “your advice is correct but I am convinced I can’t do it.”

Look: if you can’t do it, then ask for an alternative, step aside for someone who can, or best case scenario, screw your courage to the sticking post and just try harder until you CAN do it.  If you say you can’t do the thing that everyone agrees needs to be done, then the situation is basically at an impasse and nothing will improve.

2. From the other point of view, though, it’s really hard to get told you should be doing something that you’re already trying and failing at.  On Monday last, I got told by Jackie, the team’s assistant captain, that I should stay behind my check.  Which I totally agree I should have been doing, and I knew it.  It was hard to hear, and hard to take action on.

And it did make me try harder.  But I like advice that tells me something I don’t already know. So I try to do that on Saturdays. And I try to make my adice actionable—not, “stay behind your check” but “step back a yard on your check” or “watch his torso,” which explains HOW to stay in position, and WHY I’m not doing a good job.

On the other hand, advice that’s just wrong; gosh it makes me mad.  I won’t list my Monday example, but it wasn’t a point-of-debate, it was flat-out wrong advice, and that doesn’t help anyone. I don’t need wrong advice.  I have enough of it myself.

3. Delivery, too, counts.  I don’t believe in couching everything as a compliment or a suggestion. If someone is doing something wrong, I think the best way to correct it is through clear, upfront language and earnest direction.

4. Advice should be given soon after the advice is needed, not too much later, and it should be given while the person is still able to try to correct the behavior. Post mortem advice is fine, but far better is a quick suggestion between points, when the immediate benefit can be seen.

That’s my advice on advice. Take it or leave it.

 

Overheard

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?

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