A powerful hack to avoid wasting time with your friends…

I’m on a mission — to ferociously guard my time. Almost zero-waste (hey, perfection is an illusion… I know I don’t have to tell you this, but still… for the record).

Over the past few months, I’ve realized is that my biggest time investment is with my friends and acquaintances. I love to spend time with them and our conversations are always meaningful, solution-oriented and quite profound. At least that’s how I felt until I sat down and analyze the direction these conversations were headed towards. Basically, nowhere.

Upon deeper reflection, I realized that most of my conversations centered around me giving advice or come up with solutions that the other person desperately sought. And the next session with the same person is on the similar lines. And so on and so forth. There’s gotta be an end to it, right? Apparently, there wasn’t. Until I decided there has to be.

So, I flipped my approach from advice-giving to asking questions. Or from consulting or mentoring to coaching. Trust me when I say this, it’s been one of the most effective decisions I’ve taken in recent years. All I need to do is spend a good solid 45-60 minutes with the other person and probe deeper — with good intentions (of course!). They become uncomfortable or go into a trance or just get frustrated because I’m not giving them straightforward answers.

What I’ve observed is that nobody likes to think for themselves. Everyone’s looking for shortcuts and quick wins. Unfortunately, that’s not how life works. Each of us has the capability to think for ourselves and find solutions that’ll reap long-term results. The problem — we’re all lazy. We’d rather have people whine with us that encourages us to think deeper.

Perhaps we’ve become conditioned to talk about the problems than do something about it. And I’ve had enough of that. Ever since I’ve changed my approach, I’m getting fewer calls and meeting invites from these friends and acquaintances. That’s great! Because now I have to focus on a set of people who really want to change and think for themselves. They would rather partner with me to resolve their issues than fling their problems at me hoping that I’ll fling back a bunch of tactics/solutions at them.

The worst part — they won’t even make the effort to apply your suggestions. Now that’s what I call a HUGE waste of time.

Time is a precious resource. It’s limited and you have to pay the price to buy time from somebody else. You’ve got a problem? Hire a coach! Or a consultant or a mentor and we’ll see how serious you are about your “problems.”