Advice: Take It, or Leave It

by Michael Corthell

People love to give advice, usually for three reasons: they want to help, it makes them feel helpful and it's easy to do. But most of us don't take good advice. We often take bad advice, especially when we're young, because that bad advice always points to the easy way of solving a problem. By easy, I mean getting out of a situation with little or no work.

   ''Good advice is always certain to be ignored,
but that’s no reason not to give it.''
 ―Agatha Christie

Think about it, how often do you really, take someone's advice? Hardly ever, right? Have you ever said to yourself, ''Holy Smokes, that’s a great idea. That is a great way of doing things and way better than the way I had been doing it (or was planning on doing). I'm going to take that advice today!''

As John Steinbeck said, ''No one wants advice – only corroboration.'' We all can appreciate advice, but what we really want is help in getting something done. Some of us are lazy and want someone else to take over and do the whole thing and take responsibility for it as well. Why? Most human beings are followers.

So how do we do it? How do we determine which advice is good for us and which is not? But first let's look at what is good advice and what is bad advice.

'Good' advice is when a person makes a suggestion and you think, ''Oh, that's right!'' It might be advice about how to write a better story, or how to peel a carrot better. This type of advice is easy to take.

'Bad' advice is when somebody makes a suggestion and you have an intuitive sense it's bad and you just can't agree with it. You might not respect their opinion, or you may know that they have their own agenda which is opposed to yours. You can even understand their point of view, but can't agree with it. This kind of advice is easy to ignore.

Always listen to your gut feelings, your intuitive sense. What is it telling you about what you're hearing? Does it make you anxious and uncomfortable? It that because the advice is wrong, or because the advice is right? Do you feel angry or defensive? Generally speaking, if you feel emotionalized by the advice your getting there is something useful to be had, something for you to learn.

''Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.''
―Erica Jong

'Take it from whence it came.'  Who is giving you the advice?

Here are some questions to ask yourself:
  • Do they have your best interests in mind?
  • Are they biased for any reason?
  • Do they know and understand you and your circumstances?
  • Has their advice been helpful before?
  • Do they have similar moral values?
Take time to reflect on the advice you've received. Let your mind to wander and ponder. Think about your what is the worst that can happen. Have you been practicing avoidance? Laziness? Try to keep an open mind. Be keenly aware that if you start feeling defensive, you just maybe on the right track. Take time and do some writing in your journal (Don't keep a diary? Consider having one.) about the decision you want to make.

The bottom line is that you are the one that has the most knowledge of the reality that you are living in, and you are the only person truly qualified to direct your own life. Hear others out, take the best of what they have to say, and then listen to yourself―your gut feelings.

That's is the best advice I have on taking advice.

Best Advice: How to learn anything

by Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is the author of 'The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business', as well as the upcoming book 'The First 20 Hours: Mastering the Toughest Part of Learning Anything.' Josh specializes in teaching people from all walks of life how to master practical knowledge and skills. In his talk, he shares how having his first child inspired him to approach learning in a whole new way.