Have you ever received any bad advice?
If you’ve ever had any mentoring, you have probably heard this disclaimer, “Take it with a grain of salt,” at the end of each session. Ironically, I have overlooked this final bit of advice for the longest time.
Last summer, a friend told me that people are bad at giving advice.
One reason is that giving advice is easier than understanding. There is a saying that “all advice is autobiographical.” Another reason is that many “advisory” figures are often too far away from where you are at. They may have simply forgotten what it is like to be in your shoes. As a result, well-intentioned advice may turn out to be obsolete and even dangerous.
That said, there is still a lot to learn from experienced folks. For example, you can study how they made it by reading their early life story (e.g. the biography of Benjamin Franklin). Make sure to focus on what they have done, not what they recalled.
Another easy fix is to simply treat the advice as another data point. Don’t overweigh it because it’s from some well-known person.
From my experience, the best advice came from my peers.
I find that people who are a year or two ahead of me are the most helpful ones. As Sheryl Sandberg noted in her book Lean In, “Peers are also in the trenches and may understand problems that superiors do not, especially when those problems are generated by superiors in the first place.”
Furthermore, it is important to find a circle of friends who support your success and happiness. You are the average of your friends, so choose your friends wisely.
What if no one around you has done it before?
Find a digital mentor who lives the kind of life you desire. Read the books they write, learn their life philosophy, and study their path. If you can, try to apprentice and learn from them directly. Otherwise, you can always follow their path and the people they work with.
Try to search inside yourself.
We already have the answers, but it may not be easy to access it. This is where coaching comes in. Great coaches will give you the frameworks to guide you to decide for yourself.
The next time you seek a mentor’s advice, ask yourself how you would answer that question first. Then compare your answer with what you received:
- If they are the same, you will learn to trust yourself more.
- If the advice contradicts, you will learn even more from testing your intuition and getting feedback on your thinking process.
Spend less time asking for advice and more time observing their initial path.
Oh, and take it with a grain of salt 😉