Advice For No One

Advice For No One

If you ask for advice, you may get the worst advice in the world.

I think it's a natural pull for people to want to climb up into the highchair of the so-called advice giver, especially if they're "just average" at the topic.

At college, I thought it was the best thing to do—ask everyone for advice. And all my friends did it too, "I just met with Professor So-and-So to talk about my entire future...he told me where to get a great job at a consulting firm that consults on how to be good advice givers.”

If you're asking a professor, who teaches and gives advice and truths on a specific subject, then get advice on that subject.

Mentors and role models are all good—great in fact. But don't fall into the trap of getting half-sacked advice from someone who is happy to give it to you. It's a suitcase of confusion, especially when you respect that person.

Let’s say you ask a respectable architect, who's into large commercial building projects for advice. You ask, "What do you think I should do on my website?” You know that you're going to get an answer. Remember the Highchair of Advice?

He tells you to keep it super simple, and then goes onto explain how it should be like a building. Lots of different colors, lots of different machinery and tools all it in their proper places. "Oh and I think you should probably change your logo and your entire company colors."

“Huh…" you think to yourself. "Great advice,” after all, it sounds relatively good.

Then you ask a respectable doctor, who's been a longterm family friend where you've had elaborate dinners together. Same questions, "What do you think I should do to my website?”

Guess what? He'll give you an answer! Isn’t this fun?!

The doctor says, “Well, at the office we use a lot of white color because it calms people, and it does this and that, and you should probably just put a lot of white space everywhere."

Well. There you have it—two great people, very respected, both in your lives and you ask advice from both. They've given it to you, but they don’t really have a professional opinion on this subject at all, even though they're both professionals.

Sure, you might get a few nuggets, but asking tons and tons of people for advice will only load you down with briefcases—briefcases full of confusion, overlapping opinions, and comments.

Have confidence in yourself, do your research, and seek directly applicable advice. You can steer a moving car, but to get a car to turn left while it’s parked is near impossible even with power steering.

So make a decision, then keep making decisions until you get where you need to be.

(photo via emayoh)