Home » Archive » Wanted socks. Got advice.

, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.


I have three kids. The oldest is four, the middle 1.5 and the youngest is just three months old. Life is busy.

It’s a non-stop collage of messy bums, running noses, skinned knees and bumped heads. Sad, happy, angry, bored, sick – all at once, in the space of moments, everybody, all the time.

There’s no time for the lawn, paint-chipped deck, creaking closet door, or dripping tub facet. Just keeping the floor clean, kids fed, and fridge stocked is too much. It’s a crazy, beautiful, hectic time.

I can’t count the days when I’ve said, out-loud, “Why doesn’t someone take one of these kids?!?” I don’t mean take, like steal. I mean take, like a Grandpa. Take for ice-cream. Take to the zoo. Take from me, into time, and return later happier and, preferably, ready for bed.

And, of all the things I do need, like a bigger house, new car, more money, new socks, and cleaner office – one of the things I don’t need is: more advice.

Sure, I value the advice I get. But I don’t need it like I need more time. Better advice is a third-level need. First, I need more time. Then, new socks. And, after that, maybe some advice.


I bet your job sometimes looks like my house. I bet you sometimes, probably mosttimes, wish you could hire out some of that weight.

Here’s another bet: Those few times you’ve tried to hire out that weight, it didn’t create the value you hoped. Whatever was done just didn’t implement well.

You wanted time. Thought at least you’d get socks. And, instead, got advice.

I’ve been wondering why that is? Thinking about what needs to change up front to change the result at the back. What do you think?


I see this a lot in both business and personal circumstance. The biggest trouble in many cases is that we aren’t specific enough about our need and don’t seek it with intention.

We say that we want more time, but I’m not convinced that time is actually what we are after. Maybe it’s the same relationship that a drill has with a hole. We seek the drill, but we really want the hole.

Wouldn’t we be better off seeking the thing that the time will give us? Isn’t that a more specific intention, easier to recognize when it presents itself? We don’t want socks, we want covered, comfortable feet.

If the intention is clear, we might start to see the advice as the way to what we want the time to give us.

Uncustomized, unactionable advice without helping to execute it? More meaningful for the giver than the receiver.

PJ makes a good point that it’s not the advice that’s important, but the impact it has. Thus, how do we reorganize interactions so that advice can turn into action?

A question, not advice :)

“A question, not advice.” Nice.

This post is a question. I’ve thought on it some, but haven’t answered.

I agree with you, PJ. Not enough is done on the front. There’s a mad rush to get moving and the consequence is that the back stays muddy.

I also agree that much value would be gained by investing in intention. Knowing what is needed and how it is of use would change the game.

Taylor, meaning to the giver is key. So is freedom. I think this stays muddy because the giver doesn’t want less mud at the back. Mud means more work.

I agree: What impact is a key question. It’s hardly ever answered at the front. Funny though, every one tries to answer it at the end – when it’s too late and the invoice is due.