Tuning in to the Right Type of Advice
Nowadays, every Tom, Dick and Harry has an opinion to share. Many people want to express their opinions on life, playing armchair psychologist, offering unsolicited advice to anyone who will freely (and not so freely) listen to them.
While it's important to seek wise counsel when making key decisions; wisdom would suggest that we seek out guidance, it's imperative that this advice comes from the right kinds of people. Yep! Those that are openly living out what they are advising on.
Problems arise when people that aren't living out these qualities seem to assume authority in their position and tell you how to live anyway. Go figure!
I'm a firm believer in asking for guidance. As a psychologist, I don't know all the answers. Most of them, but not all. SHOCK HORROR! But the reality is this, our emotions cloud our judgement from time to time, so it's important that we gain an objective opinion from people that have the life experience to share their learned lessons and the wisdom they have gained.
The hallmarks of a good shrink are to listen actively, and to, well, just shut the freak up and listen. True story! We never gain the full picture when we haven't walked in a person's shoes, so offering advice and direction is never really a good idea, unless it is, well asked for. Duh!!
I am a firm believer in sharing advice only when someone has asked for my honest opinion and direction. I always reaffirm that I don't know the full story so only the individual seeking out my advice can make a decision. This is, essentially, giving people ownership and accountability over their own lives, rather than telling them what to do. We don't want people to be dependent on us now do we?!
So what type of adviser should you look for?
It's never a great idea to seek advice from someone that has no experience in the area you're seeking some wisdom in. Obvious, perhaps, but many people fail to realise this. We want to seek advice from people that openly manifest the traits we wish to learn; or have a wealth of experience in that area. You wouldn't see a business coach that had never managed their own business now would you? Make sense?!
I once had a person trying to give me relationship advice. I couldn't wait to hear what they had to say. This person was almost 90 (OK, mid 40s), NEVER HAD A RELATIONSHIP, and seemed to assume ultimate authority on how to date successfully. So....I took their advice and....did the opposite. Doesn't take a genius to work that one out!
But, in all seriousness, we need some accountability in life. We need to seek guidance. Some people are further ahead on the journey than us and they can share what they have learned; the mistakes made and the wisdom gained. Pride would assume otherwise. There is nothing wrong with wanting a little guidance here and there. Most people already know the answers, they just need a little push to harness them. That said, some key factors to assume when looking for an adviser are:
1. Is the person successful in the area of knowledge you're seeking?
2. Do they give their opinion without it being sought, or, do they express it only after it has been asked?
3. Are they humble enough to know that they can make and have made mistakes?
4. Is their advice edifying or would it be detrimental? This goes without saying, but you haven't heard some of the horror stories I have.
5. Has life left them bitter in anyway? If so, avoid this type of advice like the plague. You don't want to be infected with that naaaasty disease.
6. Are they being kind? Some people relish in the Schadenfreude of others so use discernment. If something doesn't sit right, negate it.
7. And finally, does it resonate with your core values? Would you be happy doing what they suggest? Does it align with who you are and would you be happy giving this advice to your best friend?