Advice Mired in Fear Vs. Advice Rising From Love

There’s advice and then there’s “advice.” (Note the quotation and the italics.)

The two separate pieces of advice might be equal sound. But the problem is advice is coming from different places— one from a place of love and “advice” is coming from a place of fear.

“You shouldn’t take that job because it doesn’t pay enough.” Is different from “You shouldn’t take that job because you are worth 5x more than what they are offering.” Can you tell which one is coming from love and which from fear?

It’s really all about the packaging. Packaging and presentation make all the difference. I could give you the same birthday gift but wrap it in a garbage bag or wrap it in thick clean paper and tie it with twine in a nice bow and you’ll feel the difference.

There’s a book called Words that Work, that has a great subtitle: “It’s not what you say, It’s What People Hear.” I haven’t read the book, only that title. But I completely agree with the subtitle.

I could give you the best damn advice in the world—advice so good that it would light your ears on fire—but it wouldn’t mean a hill of beans if I said it with criticism and fear. You would likely listen, say “okay Josh” and then throw it in your new garbage bag gift wrapping and leave it on the side of the road for the next trash pickup.

I can think of many mistakes that I’ve made (you know, 20/20 and all that jazz) and advice I was given but didn’t take because of the way it was given.

It’s hard to override this. I’m not even sure we should override it most of the time. But perhaps if advice is coming from someone we know or even someone we admire then despite the packaging, maybe we should try to take a moment and listen objectively.

I have found it helpful to identify where a piece of advice is coming from. “Is this advice that I’m getting coming from a place of fear or love? Is this person saying this because he or she has personally experienced this too or are they saying this—subconsciously or not—out of envy or embarrassment or failure or conformity?”

The worst kind of advice is advice we didn’t ask for from people we don’t know. This type of advice should be thrown in a dumpster fire. This is different from the advice we receive from people we know or admire or advice we seek out. For example, consider all the content you consume—podcasts, articles, books, videos—whether you are looking for it or not, sometimes little tofu nuggets of insights will pop out at you. The other day I was listening to a podcast with Jason Fried and he said something that I wish I had learned five years ago, it was something along the lines of “You can’t make a sandwich out of equity.” Meaning, its good to work somewhere and have a stake (equity) in the company but it’s also important that they are paying you enough for what you need to live. You can’t eat a sandwich made out of equity. Brilliant! I wish I had learned that sooner!

So advice is good. Seek out insights like they are your full-time job. But be wary of advice that comes from fear. Even if it’s good advice, going with your intuition instead is usually a better choice.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1063

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