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.