Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t. – Erica Jong
What does that mean?
Asking for advice. It is a a desperate cry for help. We have figured out what is happening, and don’t like what it looks like or where it’s going to take us in the end. We cast about for alternatives. We ask for advice, hoping to get a different answer.
Sound familiar? Been there, done that. Got the lumps to prove it. We seem to think that advice will give us a different answer. It might, if we haven’t put a lot of thought into the problem, but usually, what we hear is fairly close to what we already figured out.
Why is asking for advice important?
That is a tough thing for a guy to do, isn’t it? It can be, if you have more ego than sense. Asking for advice allows us to draw on the learning, knowledge and experience of another. Hopefully we ask someone who has done that and done it well. If not, we can learn from their mistakes and try something else.
The biggest problem with asking for advice is that we usually wait until it’s too late to change the outcome. Asking if the squeaky noise the brakes are making is a bad thing should be done before the accident, not after.
By asking before the accident, you have options, such as having them fixed or taking a different vehicle. Asking afterwards will simply confirm what you now are fairly sure of. Hopefully that makes sense.
Where can I apply this in my life?
There are actually two tricks to asking advice, both discussed briefly above. One is to find someone who has the experience to provide useful information. The second is to ask for it early in the process, so you have a chance to act on the advice before everything goes sideways.
Would you ask a clown for financial advice? It may come as a surprise, but I did for quite a number of years. We had a financial adviser who was a mild mannered CPA by day, and a clown act for kids in the evenings and weekends. Really. He came very highly recommended and did exceptionally well for us. Then we moved across country and had to find another adviser.
Why mention that? Because looks can be deceiving. Many people use stereotypes to determine who is qualified to give advice. It’s better to check references, ask around and find someone who really knows what they’re talking about.
The other point (timeliness) reminds me of a recent tweet by John Cleese (of Monty Python fame). In it, he mentioned he was going to follow a friend of his, even though the friend was at his last wedding and didn’t try to stop it. In this case, Mr Cleese was stating that he wished his friend had stopped his last marriage. A request for advice (or help) that came a little late, I would say.
Again and again, people ask for advice after they have messed up. In hind sight, they should have asked just a little earlier. But time only flows in one direction (so far as we can experience it, quantum physics aside). We have to try to notice when we are approaching a significant decision and search for advice before it’s too late, and you experience the full weight of this quote (again).
In theory, this is easy. In practice, we often don’t realize that we don’t know what we are doing until it’s too late, and by then we’re done for. For me, it’s a delicious irony. I love spontaneity, yet I greatly dislike making a mess of things. So I plan as much as I can and rely on nature to screw up my plans and provide me with all the spontaneity I can handle.
Most of my trips to the lumber yard includes a clip board with two or three ways to build something and some blank paper. This allows me to re-do calculations and estimates when I get there. There is nothing worse than finding out that someone else’s project used up all the 1×10 clear fir in the store. Gotta sit down and figure out what else to do. Ask the guys at the store what other material they have and when they’re expecting to get more lumber? Yes, but that would have been better asked before I left for the store, right?
Ask early, ask the right person, and you just may avoid a lot of trouble. At the lumber store or at the altar.
From: Twitter, undocumented feed (my bad)
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/ericajong103881.html
Photo by The Geary’s