the problem with advice

Feedback is a wonderful, beautiful, and powerful thing. Advice is a specific form of feedback and can also be wonderful, beautiful, and powerful.

The danger of advice is who you take it from.

Remember that opinions are like assholes: everyone has them. And when asked for an opinion, or asked for advice, it is our natural instinct to provide it.

Think of life as a row of ladders. Every ladder represents some aspect or component of your life. On the “personal finance” ladder, there will be people who have climbed higher on that ladder than you, and people who haven’t gotten to where you stand.

On the “job satisfaction” ladder, there are people ahead of and behind you too.

Someone on the “personal finance” ladder who is ahead of you may be behind you on the “job satisfaction” ladder. By all means, ask that person for advice on personal finance! They have a different vantage point, they’ve been where you are now, and they’ve gotten past it.

If you ask that same person for advice related to your job satisfaction, they will give you advice too. But they are giving you advice from their own vantage point – which you’ve already moved past (and probably for good reason).

This analogy may be overly simplistic, but the point is this: it is dangerous to take advice from someone who has not achieved what you are trying to achieve.

Is it sure to be bad or wrong advice? No. But the chances are certainly higher. And will someone who has achieved something always give the best advice? No, not always. But the chances are certainly higher.

Let’s say you want to start your own freelance business. It would be comfortable and easy to ask another friend of yours how to go about doing it. But if they have never taken that leap, and have always worked at an agency, are they truly the best person to ask?

Without that vantage point, how can they offer you true, helpful ways to get where you want to go? It’s not malice; it’s just ignorance.

Maybe they’ve read some interviews, or listened to a podcast, but if they aren’t exemplifying the level of whatever┬áthat you are trying to achieve, they just aren’t the best person to seek advice from. But they’ll happily provide it if you ask.


Hey, can I have your email address? I will only send you more articles like this one.