Work & The World

Is Taking Advice a Good thing to do?

I have given hundreds of people advice about their career over the years. I can even, on occasion, give advice when it’s not asked for, on topics I may be less than expert in. I would also categorise myself somewhat of an authority in receiving advice, being raised in a household with one of the two parents being particularly opinionated.  This has left me with both a healthy respect for other people’s opinions and a healthy cynicism for others views and thoughts.

 

But it does raise an interesting issue, at what point is advice good or bad?  To set some context it is important to distinguish between types of advice.

 

  • The “hot tip”. Excellent when you are at the races or trying to work out if you want a roast dinner or the lunchtime special at your local. The hot tip is most likely to assist in the short term and probably shouldn’t be relied upon to make career decisions.
  • The unqualified opinion. This is the advice that is well meaning but can be devoid of fact or expertise to back it up. You will tend to get this from people who care about you, and who might mix their experience with something they saw on television or spoke to the neighbour about and overlay your situation to it.
  • The opinion regardless of the question opinion. So set in their ways, these folks struggle to see other points of view, or the forest for the trees. Think of a politician, it doesn’t matter if you were seeking particular advice, they can only give you the party line.  Or the kind of fellow who will fight to the death to argue the supremacy of a ute over a regular car, but doesn’t know much else – not always going to get what you want in terms of advice there.
  • Finally, the qualified opinion. These folks have the capability to understand your situation, process the potential consequences of your actions and provide their viewpoint, from a holistic perspective.

 

Now that we have determined the types of advice that may come your way, I come back to my original question, at what point is advice good or bad?  The answer is actually all about you.  Most people you meet will be happy to offer their advice should you seek it out (and in the case of my mum, even when you don’t).  Their advice can come from a range of perspectives, but usually it will come from their own experience or view of the world.  This can be problematic because you do not have their view of the world, nor their experience.

 

Of course, what other people’s advice does offer, is an alternate point of view.  And that’s where things become tricky.

 

If I was to follow all of the advice from experts to that bloke down the road on what I should eat, I would end up eating nothing (never happen, my chocolate obsession is real people).  You can literally find expert opinion on not eating everything from Carbs through to not eating spinach.  So where does that leave us?

Listening to advice is excellent.  Most people genuinely believe that they have something to offer you, if nothing else, they have given of their time to give you their opinion.  Listen and digest.  Have a think about where the advice is coming from; is there an agenda behind it, what category does it fit into above?  Have a think about if you can use the advice to your benefit.  Then move on it.  Discard it or take it, try not to dwell on it.  So, is taking advice a good thing to do?  In my opinion, it never hurts to consider another view. The larger the problem, the better off you are getting a few more views on it.  However, there comes a time that you need to act, and that is all down to you.

Pro piece of advice for Today

A bit of a theme lately,  if you don’t have someone in your life who questions your choices then it is definitely my advice that you go out and find someone who can – beware falling into your own echo chamber.

 

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