6 Things You Need To Understand Before You Take Advice
“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.” Paulo Coelho in his book The Alchemist.
When it comes to advice, almost everyone has something to offer. The problem is usually that only few actually have something to offer.
Advice can either be good or bad advice. Identifying bad advice is sometimes an outright easy task. Like if I tell you to keep bugs as pets in your room, that cannot be good advice.
But identifying good advice, more often than not, is usually a hard thing to do. You probably never thought of that.
What should you consider as good advice?
First of all, it’s good to note that authority doesn’t mean good or best. Your elders are not always right. It just so happens they are often right, but not 100%. In fact, this percentage might be reducing, according to the way today’s society is changing.
I prepared some tips to guide you as you select your advisers and whom to listen to. This too is advice, we’ll, from me, but I’ll solve this sum at the end of this post.
1. Is the one advising you in a position you admire /aspire?
An antique can’t be advised by a tick. Unless the ant admires laziness.
In my opinion, you should listen more to those you aspire to be like. They may be your mentor, role model sometimes even friends or family members who have achieved something or are living a great life. If you are an entrepreneur, look for someone who has made it there.
2. Are they on the same road as you?
A footballer wouldn’t advise a scientist. Or vice versa.
Sometimes, the course we take may be an isolated one. It might be the road not taken, or should I say taken by the few. For example, you might choose the path of entrepreneurship but in your family and friends list, there’s no one in that course. Would-be world changers also face this problem. Everyone will want to tell you this and that, that you are crazy, unrealistic, or you should focus on something else.
If you don’t share goals and interests, better just listen with your eyes.
Surround yourself with people on same mission as you.
3. Is your adviser knowledgeable?
Patients don’t diagnose doctors.
Here, you need to realize that we live in an extremely ignorant society, even though, ironically, we are in the information age! Few people do read. If you are in Africa, too bad for you. Mind you I am saying this out of first hand experience. Even Johann Rupert said, “For a black man, just hide it in a book.” Well, I agree. Few Africans read, let alone engaging in in mental improving practices like intellectual debates or listening to podcasts.
Ignorance is really a burden. Those who advise you, if they are ignorant, no matter who they are, will just add a burden on your shoulders.
I usually say that those who don’t read should not argue, let alone give opinions.
Educate yourself. Don’t let anyone capitalize on your ignorance.
4. Does your adviser have experience?
Apprentices don’t teach the master.
This is almost obvious. But I just couldn’t leave it out. As you may have guessed, here’s where authority and elders get an A.
There’s a Swahili saying that translates to ‘the punishment of the grave is only known by the corpse.’
5. Does your adviser understand you?
I guess I couldn’t find a metaphor for this one.
Anyway we are all unique beings. This is where understanding comes in. Obviously, no one can understand you better than yourself (see next point), but there are those who come close. May be your mom, dad, best friend or if you are lucky, your lover. You know them.
One trap you need to overcome here is that Someone might tell you that they do understand you, but in reality they don’t. It’s not like they may be trying to get mischievous,you are just a complicated sum. Be smart.
Sadly, there’s little help for would-be world changers and intellectuals. I understand few understand you. But here’s the relief.
6. You have the final word.
Not literally, after discussing the issue with Mum. I mean you should have the space and the freedom to make the final choice. Be your own adviser.
Isaac Asimov said, “Self education, I firmly believe, is the only form of education there is.”
This applies to advice too. You understand yourself 100%(I guess), and it’s your life (I’m sure).
Think for yourself and try to seek what’s best for you.