“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.”
- Erica Jong
Most people prefer to give advice rather than receive it. Years ago I had this thought about it being human nature, that we just like to find things on our own rather than have someone give it to us. When I go back and read something that I wrote back in 2004 and I still feel the same way it makes me feel good, but I get a lot more excited when I find that I have changed my mind about something.
The older we get, the more set in our ways we become. I think that its not so much that we cannot take advice anymore, but rather that we think we know all there is to know. I don’t know if it is my Grandpa being very gentle with his advice and always making a little story out of it, but from a young age I learned that it is easier to take advice rather than make the mistakes on your own. It has been surprising to me how many people just want to do it on their own and make the mistakes themselves rather than take the advice.
I can count on my hand the people that I have met that have been very willing not to take advice, but truly listen to it. Those people have been very successful as the years have gone by, that and some of the happiest I have seen. The people that are not so willing to listen to advice seem to have a more cynical disposition and are almost paranoid to hear any advice.
Willingness to hear what others have to say is a basic principle of a community. If we are not willing to participate in that process, then we are doomed to not truly be a part of a community. I have seen people go as far as doing the complete opposite of what someone else has advice because the want to “find their own way.” I don’t get why some people like the “hard” way better than the tried one.
Sure, what works for some does not work for others; but there is always room to at least discuss the advice that others are trying to give you.
My favorite teacher gave me a piece of advice about education that applies to much more in life. “Don’t ever swallow whole; any time you get information try to understand not just what it tells you, but how the information was gathered.” This same principle applies to advice. When you hear someone giving you advice, think about where they are coming from and ask them if they have a situation or example where the advice came from.
Simply discarding what others say because you want to do everything on your own is not just pride, but simply arrogance. The more willing you are to listen to others idea, specially advice; the more we would make all relationships in life that much better.