People love to give and receive advice. We do it all the time. And it’s a good thing — no one in this world has all the answers to everything.
Most people mean well, but sometimes, the advice works counterproductive. Especially when you ask advice from various people and everyone tells you something different.
Result? Confusion — which is never helpful.
Take college. One person says it’s useless; the other says it’s necessary. If you’re currently deciding whether to go to college or not, other people’s advice will probably not help you.
And this is true for most things in life. That’s why there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re asking people for advice.
People Defend Their Own Beliefs
People are biased as fuck. It surprises me how many people don’t realize that when they ask others for ‘impartial’ advice. There’s no such thing.
Some people say hard work is bad for you, I say that hard work is meaningful.
Or when you ask me about having a 9–5 job where you have to follow orders all day—I’ll say it’s the death of your soul. Ask your parents, and they probably will say I’m wrong and that you should get a ‘normal’ job. Obviously, that’s true, for them.
When I read or listen to other people’s advice, I always keep in mind that this person views the world through their eyes. What’s true for someone, does not have to be true for you.
If someone criticizes your decisions, your work, or you personally, that’s an opinion. Never take it as a fact because nothing is.
Marcus Aurelius put it best:
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” (click to tweet)
Never Make Decisions Based On One Person’s Advice
Let’s say that you have to make a major decision at work or in your personal life.
And let’s assume that you ask one person, and then you make up your mind. It’s not uncommon to only ask one person for advice, and often, we ask the same people for advice.
I’ve done that in the past as well. But think about it: Asking the same people limits your perspective. It’s like looking at something from a single dimension.
Instead, try to ask different people who are very different from each other. Try to get a 360 view of everything.
Ask young and old people, men and women, people from different ethnicities and backgrounds. Talking to vastly different people will expand your mind and shed light on things you never even considered.
Don’t Look For What You’re After
This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned when it comes to making decisions.
Often, we make up our mind, and then we try to find reasons that support our own decision.
That’s called Confirmation Bias. A lot of scientific research also suffers from that. Professors come up with a hypothesis, and they do everything to find support for their beliefs.
There are a few reasons we have this behavior. First, we hate to be wrong. Second, we love to be right.
The bottom line is this: You can’t trust your own brain.
“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” — C. S. Lewis
Don’t Ask The Wrong People
I believe that we should be careful about WHO we’re asking. Ask yourself: How can someone give advice on something if they’ve never done it themselves?
In my field, there are a lot of people who talk about success, productivity, health, etc. But if you look closely at their life, they haven’t achieved any of those things.
And that’s not even the worst problem — these people give advice that they don’t even follow themselves — like people who talk about consistency but are not consistent with their work. That’s insanity.
You won’t see me talking about how to become a billionaire or how billionaires think.
I’m not a billionaire. And reading about them will only bring you so far. It’s different if you have worked with a billionaire closely for a longer period.
In the end, you’re the one who’s responsible for your life. Other people might give you advice, but you’re the one who has to live with your actions. That’s why you want to take people’s advice with a grain of salt — even my advice.
I don’t know you — only you do, so listen to others, but always make up your own mind.
(image by Dubravko Sorić)