In 2014 I decided to write a manifesto of sorts, ‘Don’t F-Up: Life Lessons from a Serial Failure’ (https://www.amazon.com/Dont-F-Up-Lessons-Serial-Failure/dp/1312012218). The goal in putting together my thoughts – besides the therapeutic value of writing – was not to offer advice on what to do in life, but rather what NOT to do. Well…maybe not so much what not to do but rather some things to consider before making those bigger decisions. At that point I was on a real hot streak of losing. Divorced, broke, homeless, unable to financially continue nursing school, I was batting .000 with not so much as a glimmer of hope. It was during this time I really began to think about life, the choices I was making and the consequences of them. Fast forward to today and while there hasn’t been tremendous improvement I have been able to come away with some pretty solid thoughts. One of the key areas I’ve kept coming back to and have found solid footing on is advice.
Nowadays it seems as if there’s advice everywhere and most of it tries to lead people to a state of feeling rather than being. Giving and receiving advice has become such an emotional process it feels as though it should come with a box of tissues. Why has it gotten this way? I mean certainly people have repressed feelings and thoughts (particularly woman and minorities) but it appears things have literally careened off a cliff and I’m certain I know the culprit…bad advice. Throughout history and especially now in this so-called information age it seems everyone’s got an answer. The problem is a much greater percentage of people are wrong rather than correct. While psychologists, sociologists and the like can debate back and forth about the particulars of how, when, and why, I think it’s safe to say for most this starts early in life.
We’re bread like dogs to believe that while we’re growing up to trust the ‘experts’? And who are these experts you may ask? Well it appears that it’s anyone older than you -parents, grandparents, teachers, church elders, etc…and the older the better. Now while I’d never dispute there’s a large collection of experience and potential wisdom in all those years, there’s also a lot of backwards thinking and belief systems that research shows to be more harmful than helpful. So where does a person go to solve this problem? My plan is to expand on this topic in much greater detail down the road, ideally with some accredited individuals, but for the sake of introducing it to anyone reading this post, regardless their age (of course assuming they’re a bit older to even be able to read this in the first place, ie. adolescents) I believe it comes down to a couple of key things.
Ask yourself the following
- Who is this person to me and if they’re close (say a family member) is their relationship to you or you to them making figuring something out harder?
- The person giving the advice, what’s their track record? If they’re encouraging you to do (or not do) something, is it something they have done (or not done)?
- If seeking advice (which is still a good thing) what is it on and do you and the person you’re reaching out to deeply share the circumstance in question? And if so how did their situation ultimately turn out?
At the end of the day it really comes down to listening and thinking. Also take your time and ask questions, especially when you’re younger. You’ll be old and dead before you know it. Better to have taken a day, a week, month or even year to go over something and be pleased with the outcome than have jumped into the deep end of life not ready to swim.