This week I made my first visit to the Genius Bar at my neighborhood Apple Store. Like the previous ones I’d hung out at in Minneapolis and Las Vegas, this one is staffed with folks who are smart and eager to help.

Even though my appointment was at 10 AM, their opening time, the place was buzzing by the time I arrived. About a dozen kids were clustered around a table dressed in the same t-shirts with the Apple logo that the store employees wear. They were participants in one of the summer programs Apple runs in their stores.

I still recall my first experience back when I owned a heavy iMac. I had fretted about how I was going to carry it all the way to the store inside Southdale Mall. Of course, those Apple folks had anticipated this problem.

“Pull up to the curb across from the upper level entrance,” I was told, “and give us a call when you’ve arrived. We’ll send someone up to carry your computer.” Whew!

On that first visit, I spent about an hour waiting for my repair. As I sat perched on the stool, people stopped by the Genius Bar, got their problems solved and went on their way. I also noticed that most of them were smiling as they left.

“So you just spend all day making people happy?” I asked my Genius.

“Pretty much,” he laughed.

Coincidentally, I happened to be rereading The Big Moo a couple of evenings before my  latest visit. In an essay entitled Ron Johnson is Not a Genius…But He Hires Them Everyday, I learned a bit about the origin of this brilliant service.

Then the author says, “What if Apple had charged a bit for the service, the way Best Buy does? Or what if they deliberately understaffed it, using it as a gimmick instead of a helpful service?

“What if they hired the cheapest people they could find (Hey, it’s free, what do you expect?) and didn’t train them very well? It’s pretty easy to see that the concept would have seemed mediocre. And a failure.”

I don’t remember many experiences I’ve had as a consumer, but I can recall all of my encounters at the Apple Store. There was the time I was browsing and a young man approached me.

“So how long have you been in the cult of Mac?” I asked.

He laughed and said, “It really is a cult, I guess. My girlfriend’s mother owns a Mac and she also drives a Saturn. That’s a cult, too.”

“I know,” I said. “I’m a member of that one also.”

This week’s visit began with a challenge. William, my local Genius, discovered that my computer was not compatible with what I wanted done. Undaunted, he began exploring options and eventually came up with a solution to my problem. It will require a return visit, but I’m fine with that.

Of all my encounters with the folks at the Apple Stores, one ranks as most unforgettable. It happened in Las Vegas and the news wasn’t good. My Mac could be fixed, but the repair was so expensive (and the Mac so elderly) that it didn’t make senses.

I reluctantly looked over the new models and selected one that looked like a piece of art. When I went to pay for it, the woman asked how she could help me and I sighed and said, “This wasn’t what I was planning to do today.” I handed her my credit card.

She looked directly at me and quietly said, “The Universe will provide.”  I could not recall ever having a sales transaction that included those words.

I walked out of the store silently repeating what she had said.

Within days, an unexpected project dropped into my lap and when it was over the money I earned was almost exactly what my new computer cost. It arrived just in time for me to pay my credit card.

Even though I own an iPad and iPhone besides my computer, I’m not close to being one of Apple’s big customers. I am, however, treated as if I were every time I step into their store.

I’m pretty sure they’re stuck with me for life. After all, their products aren’t the only genius idea that they have.

Five years ago today, my phone in Las Vegas rang about 8:30 in the morning. It was my daughter Jennie who didn’t usually call so early in the morning.  I asked if she was planning to give birth later in the day. “He’s already here,” she said.

I jumped in my car, drove to Valencia, connected with my sister Margaret and Zoe and we headed to the birth center at UCLA where I met the newest member of our family. I had no idea what adventures were on their way.

In just a few short years, I have a memory bank full of stories about this amazing little boy whom I call Zachy. I will never forget the day three years ago when I was wondering if I’d ever find a new home for myself and feel settled again. As I was walking across the room, he ran at me, threw his arms around my knees and yelled, “Yeah, Grandma!” I’ve never felt more loved.

Recently, I’ve introduced him to tools and he’s delighted in learning to use a hammer, screwdriver, paper cutter, and stapler. He also had taken up beading and brings his trademark thoughtfulness to each new project.

Last year, he was spending the night during the opening ceremony for the Olympics. We sat silently listening to Elgar’s magnificent Enigma Variations and when it was over, he looked at me and said in a whisper, “That sounds like love.”

Earlier this year, Jennie was asked to write a profile of Zachy for his preschool. She did a great job of capturing him. It’s a reminder that a life doesn’t have to be long to make an impact.

Zach was born within 8 minutes of our arrival at the hospital. In true Zachy style he didn’t feel the need to wait for the midwife. I’m pretty sure if he could have talked he would have said, “Don’t worry, Mom. I know what I’m doing.” That independent spirit has been the driving force of his personality.

As soon as he could walk he would venture off, never looking back, never worried that he wouldn’t be able to find me.

Not surprisingly, Zach loves to travel. He has a real curiosity for new places. One of his dreams is to go to Venice so he can taste their gelato.. I expect that when he’s an adult I will get calls from remote parts of the world.

Zach is his calmest when he’s working in the yard. He takes pride in trimming the plants and making sure they have enough water. He’s looking forward to planting our first vegetable garden this spring. For him, I think the joy is twofold. He is eager to watch the vegetables grow, but he is also looking forward to being able to provide food for the people he loves.

Zach spends a lot of time thinking about things. While it sounds funny to say that a four-year-old is grappling to understands life’s existential questions, it’s true for him. He has a poetic spirit and a deep desire to understand our world.

While he may not always seek the company of others, he’s usually pondering how he can make his community a better place. If you can leave him alone with his thoughts long enough, he’s sure to come back with some great ideas.

“How do you know that, Zach?”%0

For me, meeting interesting people, however briefly, is one of the great rewards of travel.  On my last evening in Los Angeles several years ago, my daughter suggested that  we have dinner at The Milky Way.

This tiny restaurant is lovingly run by Leah Adler, a little pixie who just happens to have given birth to Steven Spielberg.  Her utter joy in making her customers happy is obvious as she flits from table to table chatting with everyone.

She seemed to be having such a good time that I thought being a restauranteur must be a new occupation for her. When she came to inquire about our dinner, I asked her if she was at the restaurant every day.

“Oh, yes,” she said. “I leave home at 8:30 every morning and I’m here until closing. I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years and there’s no place I’d rather be. I get to plan dishes with the cooks, flirt with old men and drink wine. What could be better than that?”

She also confided that she would be 82 on her next birthday and had no plans to retire.

(She is now 93 and still delighting diners at The Milky Way.)

Leah Adler is living proof of the longevity-enhancing rewards of right livelihood. What a contrast she is to all those folks who think life will begin once they retire.

A few weeks earlier, I’d gone to my post office and was waited on by a clerk that’s been there most of the time that I’ve had my mailbox. Since I knew that his retirement was coming soon, I asked, “How much longer, Jeff?”

“A hundred and forty-seven days,” was his instant reply. Imagine spending your time in a such a way that you’re counting the days until it’s over.

More and more studies now show that every day we spend doing work that we hate is very expensive.  It robs us of our creative spirit, impacts our attitude and physical well-being in a negative way, and causes us to miss out on the adventure that our personal life journey was intended to be.

Apparently Stephen King was onto something when he said, “If you can do it with joy, you can do it forever.”

When I took a sabbatical a few years ago, I decided that my theme/purpose was Creative Renewal. I set off for Europe with no itinerary, but plenty of notebooks. Anything and everything that caught my fancy was recorded and composted.

Like all sabbatical takers I had interviewed, I consider it one of the best things I’ve ever done. However, I continue to take regular jaunts to inspire my self and nurture my creative spirit.

Even a day trip can yield results if you’re open to it happening. Why not explore a new gallery or visit a unique business? It can be time well spent.

On a trip to Minneapolis, Alice Barry suggested we pay a call to Wild Rumpus, the imaginative children’s bookstore. Somehow I had never managed to get there when lived in the area.

It’s such a magical place, that I’d include it on any future trip to my old hometown. And if I lived nearby, I’d have it high on my list of places to go if I was in need of a creative jolt.

“The ability to put everything aside, leave your surroundings and simply absorb is the only way for me to keep from getting burned out on design  and on life in general, “ says interior designer Genevieve Gorder. “Travel awakens every sense. There is never a time you return from a trip and don’t have a new idea.”

That’s precisely why I’ve made a commitment to travel more this year sharing my most popular seminars in new locations around the country.  This endeavor has also had some pleasant surprises that I hadn’t anticipated.

At next week’s Joyfully Jobless Weekend in Milwaukee, one of the participants is coming in from New York. There seems to be a pattern evolving here.

The Houston and Phoenix Weekends both had folks who’d come from afar. One of the Phoenix participants, who lives in New York, then urged a friend of hers from Seattle to fly to Las Vegas for my seminars there.

During one of the breaks, he told me that he’d traveled incessantly with his previous job. Then he laughed and said, “Coming here was the first time I’ve been on a plane in six years.”

He sent me a message from the airport while he was waiting to return home. I was delighted when he wrote, “Thank you so much for your wonderfully informative and thought provoking seminars. It sure was worth the trip to meet you.”

If you’re ready to give yourself a creative jolt, you can participate in a Weekend in your own backyard—or across the country. The distance you travel isn’t nearly as important as the commitment you make to investing in your life and business.

And if you’re feeling really frisky, there’s the upcoming Mastermind Magic with Terri Belford and me in Nashville on April 21-23. You’ll have the opportunity to nurture your next project/dream/endeavor in a distraction-free, supportive session with other creative thinkers.

By the way, the Early Bird pricing, which ends on April 1, will save you $100.

Not sure it’s worth the  bother?

Consider this: Artist and writer Danny Gregory reminds us, “When you are iin the deep end of the pool surrounded by others full of energy and ideas and examples, you learn to swim a lot better.”



You’ve heard it. You’ve probably even said it: “I so resonate with that.”

I’ve never really, well, resonated with that expression.  The phrase that pops into my head when I want to express extreme approval or affection for something is more likely to be, “I identify with that.”

Not that it really matters, but I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about the role that identifying plays in our life choices.

For instance, I’ve been pondering why it took me so long to realize that the self-employed life was for me. As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up surrounded by self-employed people and I’ve been thinking about some of them for the first time in years.

One of the folks that came to mind was Ed Tetzloff, the proprietor of a musty and dimly lit dry goods store in my hometown. It was the place where we’d go with our nickels and dimes to purchase penny candy. Transactions with the portly Mr. Tetzloff were often conducted in silence as we handed over our weekly allowance for a few root beer barrels.

I don’t recall anything much ever changing in the store—or in most of the other stores that lined our Main Street. Throughout my growing years, the same people stood in the same places selling the same merchandise  year in and year out.

I did not identify with that lifestyle and assumed my adult life would be different.

My career advisors paid no attention to it, either, as I was groomed to take my place in the job market.

Any of this sound familiar?

Fortunately, I continued to believe that this was a world filled with possibilities. Adventures. New experiences.

This was blind faith in action and it took me a long time to move into that richly rewarding world.

The window on that world was opened for me when I read Supergirls: The Autobiography of an Outrageous Business. I realize now that this book was so powerful because from my first encounter with it, I identified with the notion of creating a business that was an extension of who I was and what I cared about.

This wasn’t Tetzloff’s Variety Store; it was business as a passport to adventure and creativity.

Nobody had ever mentioned that to me before, but once I had that vision on my horizon, I made a conscious and continuous effort to hear what the successfully self-employed had to say. Those folks that I identified with (and it was more about character than acquisition), became my trusted advisors.

Whether resonating or identifying is your style, the important thing to remember is that when you find yourself making a mental connection, it’s an invitation to go deeper, to explore, to see what’s waiting to be invited into your life. Pay attention.

Or you might spend your life being a victim of mistaken identity.

It appears that I have fallen in love with the mandolin. This was no overnight love affair, however. It kind of sneaked up on me.

As a longtime fan of the music of Antonio Vivaldi, I had heard my share of mandolins and associated the instrument with music from the past.

That all began to change when I attended  a performance of Prairie Home Companion and heard the amazing Peter Ostroushko play. Nevertheless, I wasn’t ready to commit.

Then it happened. Last year, while listening to the weekly broadcast of PHC, Ostroushko performed the most glorious piece, something he’d written to celebrate a friend’s wedding. I promptly ordered his latest CD and The A and A Waltz has been a regular feature on the soundtrack in my car ever since.

I’ve been thinking about this slow love affair quite a bit because I suspect when folks hear about passion, they have a vision of being gob-smacked by something that grabs them by the shoulders and won’t put them down. Love at first sight, perhaps.

I don’t think it works that way. In fact, other than the births of my daughter and my grandchildren, I can’t recall any other times when passion was present from the first moment.

More often, it creeps up, like the mandolin, but it doesn’t come at all unless we expose ourselves to new experiences and possibilities. Passion isn’t passive, after all; we have to get involved.

One way of doing that, of course, is to pay attention to the passions of others. People we love dearly and admire genuinely may very well have passions that leave us cold. On the other hand, passionate people may get our attention simply because of their contagious enthusiasm.

I’m not particularly interested in cars, but listening to Car Talk is a frequent pleasure on my weekends at home. I’m also not much of a foodie, but John Curtas, a Las Vegas restaurant reviewer, is a delight to listen to on Nevada Public Radio and often has me making notes about places I really must visit.

Opening ourselves to things that delight others may deliver lovely surprises we hadn’t anticipated. At the very least, we’ll benefit from the power of enthusiasm  that raises our own positive attitude simply by being present.

At the same time, we need to notice when a passion has passed its sell-by date. It’s extremely easy to spend time doing things out of habit because we failed to notice that passion has fled.

Sometimes when you partake in a longtime activity and find it no longer amuses or informs or entertains, you’ll begin to feel a bit of disappointment, as if you’d been jilted.

Some passions simply have a longer run than others. Just as closets need to be weeded from time to time, so do the activities that are worth our time and attention.

Thinking about collectors and collecting has had me contemplating the role of passion in a slightly different way. How do collectors decide what to gather? What’s the difference between those who build thoughtful and valuable collections and those who are simply packrats?

As I was musing about all this, I stumbled upon a delightful book called Merry Hall by Beverley Nichols, a British journalist and fanatic gardener.

The book begins with a bit of a confession: “Some fall in love with women; some fall in love with art; some fall in love with death. I fall in love with gardens, which is much the same as falling in love with all three at once.”

Nichols goes on to tell his story of finding a wreck of a place in rural England that required years of diligent labor to transform it into the garden of his dreams. Thus began a perpetual hunt for interesting specimens to add to his collection. It’s obvious that his passion for plants continued to increase even as the challenges involved expanded as well.

But, of course, passion is like that. It often has us doing things we never imagined we could do—or would do.

Whether that passion is for music, art, cars, food, gardens, social justice or any one of a thousand other things, ultimately passion invites us to become more, to do more, to be more. Eventually those enthusiasms infiltrate other areas of our lives.

“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings,” Elizabeth Gilbert reminds us. Passion is a pointer to where those blessing can be found.

When the mandolin plays or the antique doll at the flea market catches your eye, pay closer attention and see where it leads. Give it time and see if it grows into something spectacular.

And if that doesn’t happen, keep looking. Just don’t insist on love at first sight.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I realized I was halfway through my seminar series at UNLV in Las Vegas. Little did I know that the day was also going to bring a parade of unusually fascinating people.

After getting ready for the day, I headed to the hotel coffee shop. As I was having my first (and only) coffee of the day, I decided to check messages on my iPad.

There was only one other person in the shop, a young man with his MacBook set up, checking messages on his iPhone while listening to his iPod.  Ah, I thought, a fellow member in the Cult of Apple.

A few minutes later, he interrupted me and asked if I’d watch his things while he ran to the restroom. When he returned, I asked him where he was from. “Where do you think?” he countered.

“I think you’re from the UK,” I replied. He said I was correct and we began talking. He told me that he was on a long trip to the US that began in Miami, continued in Austin, and after his week in Las Vegas he planned to head to San Diego until his return home in the early May.“I need to get some work done so I’m ready to be in one place for a while,” he said.

Since I interrogate everyone I can about their work, I asked him what he did. Turns out he runs his own online business.He said the first two years had been difficult, but now in the third year he had made some changes and was seeing  success. He confided that he was eager to be totally portable.

I asked him if he’d encountered Marianne Cantwell, but she wasn’t familiar to him. Within a minute he had located information on her book Be a Free Range Human and was ready to acquire a copy.

When I casually mentioned that my testimonial was on the cover of Marianne’s book, he asked if Making a Living Without a Job was available on Kindle. He said he was going to order that, too.

That jolly encounter was just the beginning, however. Both of my Saturday seminars were filled with delightful students.

There was an enthusiastic young man who told us that he was annoyed about all the plastic straws he was throwing away everyday. So he found someone on Etsy to make him his very own reusable wooden straw. (Who knew?)

There was Pete Young who had flown in on Friday from Seattle for my programs. He said that for years he’d been in sales and traveled constantly. “This is the first plane I’ve been on in six years,” he grinned.

Before my final seminar of the series, a man came in the room, walked over and asked if I recognized him. He looked familiar, but I couldn’t get any farther than that. “1998. Burnsville Community Ed. Norm Kunselmann,” he said.

Of course!

Norm was the permanently cheerful program director I’d worked with back in Minnesota. He had relocated to Las Vegas and was about to start working with UNLV’s continuing education program.

Then there was one of my favorite moments of the day. When Patrice Snead, a returning student who coaches women entrepreneurs, walked up to ask me a question, I asked one first. “How tall are you?”

She laughed and said her official height was 5’11’’. Then she said, “When I’m at networking events or out meeting people, I sometimes say, ‘I’m so tall I can see opportunities you might miss.’”

Best of all, there had been plenty of networking and resource sharing going on in all four of my programs as this curious group got to know each other.

Apparently, it was a fine weekend to be a gypsy teacher. This morning Tama Kieves had this to say about her time in New York:

Last night after my A Course of Miracles workshop in NYC, a bunch of us spontaneously went out to Whole Foods. We closed the place down with laughter. Doing the work you love can create soul “family” for you, income stream, & joy. What is not “safe” about this?

When I was growing up in tiny Janesville, Minnesota, I developed an enormous fondness for the mail. To me, it seemed the most compelling evidence of life outside my village came through our family mailbox at the post office.

I did everything I could think of to increase the amount of mail that arrived bearing my name. I sent away for things advertised in comic books by taping dimes and quarters on little bits of cardboard. I acquired penpals. The quality of the mail I received was far less important than the quantity.

When I began my self-employment journey it was natural to include some sort of mail order component. As a result, daily trips to the post office have been the only regular activity of my business life.

Because the post office has been my partner in business, I’ve always cultivated relationships with the postal workers that I see on a regular basis. I know their names,I know about their families and they know about me.

Even before I moved to Las Vegas, I acquired a post office box with the help of my friend Cheri who was living there. The gang behind the counter is an eclectic bunch and, with one stunning exception, all friendly and fun.

Then there’s Judy. She seldom smiles and frequently scowls when her co-workers are sharing a joke with a customer. I did my best to avoid going to her window, but it’s not always possible to circumvent her.

One day, I made a purchase from Judy and when she handed me my receipt she slipped something else in my hand. I didn’t look at it until I got to my car and discovered she had given me a religious tract. Apparently, she had  decided I needed to  be saved.

I promptly sent a complaint to the postal service via e-mail. The next day, Judy’s manager called me and expressed his horror that she had done such a thing. He promised to discuss the matter with her.

I assume that Judy knew that I was the source of her reprimand (although she may have spread her proselytizing around for all I know) and any time I landed at her window, transactions were conducted in silence. Sometimes I’d let the folks behind me in line go ahead just to avoid an encounter with her.

On the Saturday morning when I went to the post office carrying dozens of copies of Making a Living Without a Job to be mailed, I was slightly dismayed to see that only Judy and one other employee were minding the store.

When my turn came, I was paired with Judy. Several of the books were going to other countries so needed special attention. When she realized what was in the packages, she asked me what kind of books I wrote.

I mumbled something about self-employment and Judy surprised me again by saying, “I want to be self-employed.” I said nothing. She kept processing orders and asked, “How much is your book?”

I told her the price and then (to my further astonishment) said, “I’d like to give you a copy. Maybe it will help.”

“Would you autograph it?” she asked. She was smiling for the first time ever. I assured her I would do that.

I walked out of the post office shaking my head at the unexpected shift in my relationship with her.

Later that day, I returned with more packages to mail and a copy of my book concealed in a gift bag. “You may not want to read this in the employee lunchroom,” I suggested.

Based on my experience with Judy, I would not think she’d make an especially good entrepreneur since she doesn’t seem to like people very much. I could be totally wrong about that, of course.

Perhaps her misery in her current job is simply too great for her to keep it to herself.

Judy reminds me why it’s so important that we make the commitment to discover the work we love and then do it with all our heart.

When we don’t, we inflict our unhappiness on others. We never become masterful. It’s like going through life with a low grade fever that’s not bad enough to keep us in bed, but we don’t feel good enough to operate from our best self.

George Bernard Shaw, who showed us he knew a thing or two about personal transformation in his play Pygmalion, observed,“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

For most of us, that purpose is expressed through our work and if we fail to connect with the work that ignites our imagination and makes us wildly eager to share, we spread a virus of a different kind, one that infects everyone who comes in contact with us.

Yes, it’s that important and the Judys of this world that keep reminding me of that. I only wish that there were fewer of them.

Thanks to an ominous noise coming from my front left wheel of my trusty Saturn, I spent my holiday weekend close to home. Although I had no idea what was causing the noise, I kept thinking of a recent caller to Car Talk who had a problem with a front axle. I believe she was warned not to push her luck.

My daughter had recommended Big John’s, a family-owned local shop, so I called them ten minutes after they opened at 7:30 AM. They suggested I come in as soon as possible for a diagnosis, which was exactly what I hoped they’d say.

The men behind the counter at Big John’s were all enormous and enormously tattooed. Most of them sported scraggly beards and jolly smiles.

In the customer seating area there was a sixty-inch tv sporting a duck hunting reality show. I was sorry I’d left in such a hurry that I forgot to grab a book, but noticed a stack of magazines on the coffee table in front of the leather sofa. I was not optimistic that I’d be able to amuse myself.

About ninety percent of the magazines were back issues of Men’s Health or Sports Illustrated. Then I spied Departures, an American Express publication featuring luxury travel.

I decided it was more promising than the other choices, so I began halfheartedly browsing through it. In amongst the ads for expensive watches and hotels, I came across a fascinating story by a writer who had paid a visit to Rumi’s adopted hometown in the south of Turkey.

Yes, that Rumi. The beloved poet, I learned, had been born in what is now Afghanistan, but for most of his adult life lived and wrote in Konya. By the time I finished the piece, I wanted to join the 5,000 pilgrims who visit his tomb every day.

By this time, my car problem was diagnosed and it was, indeed, an axle and bearing causing the racket. I was told it would take about 2 1/2 hours to repair. The jolly man at the counter said, “We’ll let you have the remote for the tv.”

I was feeling pretty jolly myself when he told me my repair was going to come in under $500, about $1000 less than I’d anticipated. I laughed and said I’d call my daughter to come and rescue me.

While I waited for my ride, I decided to browse through another magazine, a thick marketing piece for an MLM company disguised as an issue of Success magazine. It was mostly filled with stories extolling tales of financial freedom distributors of the company had found through their businesses.

I kept turning pages and there at the end was a non-marketing article about the late speaker Jim Rohn. Much of the story was familiar, but at the end of the piece was a glorious tip sheet called something like Jim Rohn’s Seven Steps for Living a Great Life.

One of the tips that got my attention was a call to action.

Rohn said, “Don’t miss the game. Don’t miss the performance, don’t miss the movie, don’t miss the show, don’t miss the dance. Go to everything you possibly can. Buy a ticket to everything you possibly can.”

After my solitary weekend, that was music to my ears (or, literally, eyes). I smiled thinking how inspiration really is every where when you’re open to it, but Rohn wasn’t done with me yet.

“Live a vital life,” Rohn advised. “If you live well, it will show in your face. There will be something unique and magical about you if you live well.”

So I’m happy to report that my car is once again running quietly. And I promised Big John’s I would write a rave review about them on the Car Talk Website so I need to see if I can do so without gushing.

After all, public gratitude for great service is another aspect of living a vital life.

Of course, Rumi knew that, too. “The rule that covers everything is: How you are with others, expect that back.”

I’m guessing the guys at Big John’s demonstrate that everyday. What could be more inspiring than that?

As anyone who’s started a business knows, doing so invites an avalanche of unsolicited advice. Obviously, we need advice from those who have experience and information that can help us.

How can you sort the wheat from the chaff?

Rule #1: Consider the Source

The most important thing about receiving advice is that you know your source and trust them.. We’ve all probably allowed false advice to influence us. Sometimes it happens because the advice-giver sounds authoritative and so we look no further.

At other times, maybe out of laziness, we accept negative or discouraging words as an excuse for not giving something a try.

And sometimes we just don’t know if the advice is accurate. (This is a particularly new and thorny problem caused by the Internet where advice is posted but not edited or verified.)

Keep in mind this advice from the Persian poet Rumi: “When setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from someone who has never left home.”

Rule #2 : Get a Second Opinion

While too many opinions or too much advice can serve to confuse, if you’re exploring unknown territory,  serious research is in order before setting out.

Get advice from people who know what they’re talking about—and then get a back-up opinion or two.

Rule #3: Make the Most of It

When you ask advice of another person, your initial role is to be a quiet listener or to ask clarifying questions. Whether or not you act upon the advice is a matter for a later time.

When you’re trying to make a decision or need information so you can proceed with a decision you’ve already made, seeking outside input is just part of the information-gathering process. Sifting comes after you’ve got all the information collected.

The world is full of teachers, experts and amateur advisors—with varying qualifications. Finding the right ones to help you learn what you need to know so you can move forward in your own life is not to be taken lightly.

The experience of others can save us time, add deeper insights, prevent us from making costly mistakes. Ask only those who can help, not hinder, your success.

Rule #4 Look for the Lessons

Pay attention and notice what others are doing.  Or just remember this advice from C.S. Lewis:

Good things as well as bad are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm, you must stand near the fire; if you want to get wet, you must get into the water. If you want joy, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into the thing that has them…They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very center of reality. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you; if you are not, you will remain dry.