When Forrest Gump was departing for Vietnam, Jenny advised him, “If you’re ever in trouble, don’t try to be brave, you just run, okay? … Just run away!” Contrast that advice to the advice Forrest received in the form of a question from the old fisherman when he was buying his shrimp boat, “Are you stupid or something?”
The point is some advice is worth listening to and other advice should be taken with a grain of salt. Not all advice is given equally.
So, how do you distinguish good advice from the bad advice?
What advice should you heed?
And what advice should be ignored?
Here are 4 questions to ask yourself when considering the advice from others:
1. Does the Advisor Know More than You?
Expert advice should always be welcomed and considered.
In the old days of the Wild West, individuals took the advice of experts such as blacksmiths, bankers, and merchants to survive and obtain the skills, goods, and services necessary to survive.
In the modern day of computers, infinite information, and endless possibilities, we turn to financial, IT, social media, and communication experts for the services and information we need to thrive.
Expertise has evolved, become more specialized, and is as important today as it ever was.
Generally, it’s a good idea to heed the advice of experts.
2, Does the Advisor Have Your Interests at Heart?
Experts and other advisors have their own personal interests at heart. They may, or may not, have your best interests at heart.
For example, a financial expert wants to sell their services as a means for their own income. Unscrupulous experts could put their own self-interest of a commission above your self-interest of obtaining the best financial investment.
Likewise, family and friends may have their own security and self-interests clouding their own lack of expert knowledge for any particular issue.
All advice is given with the inherent biases of the individual giving the advice. Your challenge is to be aware of these biases.
Sometimes advice needs to be ignored because of the biases of the advisor.
3. Does the Advisor Have Access to Enough Information?
Smokey Bear said, “Only you can prevent forest fires!” And when it comes to decision making, “Only you have access to all of the information.”
Harry Truman’s The Buck Stops Here placard needs to be on your desk when considering advice from others.
Granted, this can be very difficult, especially when you have experts saying one thing and loved ones saying something else.
Accepting that you are 100% personally responsible for the final decision goes a long way toward resisting the temptation to place an over-reliance on any one advisor who does not have access to all of the details.
4. Does the Advisor’s Advice Feel Right?
Finally, simply follow your gut instinct.
When Forrest was in Vietnam and saving his fellow soldiers lives, he disobeyed a direct order from Lt. Dan. He returned to the battlefield despite the danger of the incoming bombers because he had to find Bubba. Forrest wasn’t thinking logically at that moment … he was doing what his instinct told him to do. He was doing what felt right.
What do your instincts tell you about an important decision?
Do you know how to listen to your instincts?
Do you regularly heed the advice of your instincts?
Receiving and taking advice is a tricky thing.
There are experts who know more than you do.
There are family and friends who care deeply for your well-being.
There are endless others who give opinions even if you don’t ask.
So, what should you do?
How do you balance advice from experts and loved ones?
How do you make decisions when advice is coming from all different angles?
Follow your instinct.
Next Blog Title: Gumption, Decision Making & Affirmations
Next Blog Date: October 10, 2011