The Right Advice

Photo by Austin Chan

Asking for, taking, and dishing out advice are three very different practices that each hold their own difficulties.

It is often said that the advice we give to other people is the advice we most likely need to take ourselves. It’s easy to throw our words around, vaguely connecting experiences with results in a round-about attempt to find meaning from random events, but it’s a lot harder to ask for that advice in the first place—or to take it later down the line.

When it comes to taking advice from people (something we rarely do) we have to be sure that they’re either in a position that we want to be in, or they’re proactively working their way towards it.

Every ounce of advice they give will have been filtered through their personal experiences, as it’s their beliefs (the advice they gathered, and the advice they gave themselves) that got them there.

In the same way that we would ask a plumber for advice about our leaky faucet before we would ask a florist, because it is their experience that got them to becoming a plumber in the first place, we should be careful to only take advice from people we look up to, and that have done what we want to do.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t listen to other types of people. There are new ideas to be found all around us, just be sure to differentiate between these different types, as they will be highly personal to you, and you alone.

Focus on these people; your mentors, your influencers, and sooner than you know it, you’ll be making similar strives in the direction you want to go. ∎

Benjamin Spall

Benjamin Spall

Benjamin Spall is the co-author of My Morning Routine (Portfolio). He has written for outlets including the New York Times, New York Observer, Quartz, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, CNBC, and more.