Giving and Taking Advice

“The best advice comes from people who don’t give advice.”

Matthew McConaughey

Unsolicited advice always shoots through one ear and out the other without the slightest remorse.

The best advice given is the advice asked for.

The problem is we are too stubborn and obvious to ask for it. We’d rather go down with the ship then tell others our ship is leaking.

Some days I feel like half my problems would dissipate if I asked the right person for some advice. (The right person being the one who has experience a similar problem or knows someone who has)

So how do we give advice to someone too stubborn to take it? and how do we ask for advice when we really need it instead of holding our breath trying to solve our problems ourselves?

We do it subtly and from a place of honesty and trust.

When it comes to giving advice, we have to meet people where they are. Sometimes, that means being there for them when they need help and they are struggling. We have to wait for them to be ready for help. This starts by simply saying that you are there them if they need any help or guidance. Open up the kimono first — show them what you are struggling with. Vulnerability is relatability. And don’t forget to lead by example.

How do we ask advice when we need it ourselves?

First, find someone who has been through something similar to what you are going through. And if you can’t find that, then the next best thing is to seek advice from someone you know that you admire.

There’s no shame in asking for help. In fact, being vulnerable and seeking council will make the person like you and want to help you even more. Again, vulnerability is relatability.

If you feel like you’ve got no one around you that can help, hit the books. Seek the wisdom and insights from people of today and from history who’ve experienced life in its fullest spectrum. Books, videos, courses, podcast… half the battle is being aware of that fact that you could use some advice, from there, finding the advice will come much more easily. If that doesn’t work, maybe you’re the one who will find an answer and help others from your insights.

And when in doubt, seek a professional. (Verses some random person like me, with a blog.)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #718


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“Do What I Don’t”

“You know how advice is. You only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyway.”

John Steinbeck

Advice is a tricky business. Unless you can back up your advice with personal experience, hardly anyone will listen to you.

It sucks because their advice might be sound but because it’s not backed by anything, we won’t take it. Because what if it’s bad advice?

Armchair quarterbacking doesn’t inspire anyone. Well, not with positivity anyway. It might inspire you to do the opposite of what the person is saying.

Even if you are older, or in a position of higher authority, if you’re talk doesn’t match your walk, people will notice and won’t do it.

“The advice of the elders to young men is very apt to be as unreal as a list of the hundred best books.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

If I were to pin it down to one reason why, I’d say it’s because advice that’s given without experience to back it up feels hollow and judgmental.

Humans have been giving each other unwanted advice to each other for millennia. The hunter-gather takes one look at his buddies fire and says ‘you should build a fire over here instead of there, bro’.

The bible has some similar insights on this: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. … Why do you look at the speck of dust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? … You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Sometimes, we’re the ones doing the armchair life coaching. We’re giving all this great advice but not taking it ourselves. Crap. (…you hypocrite!) The only way to resolve this is to heed our own advice. Giving advice means taking advice yourself.

Unless you can back up your advice with personal experience, no one is going to listen.

To be in a position to help others, you have to align your worlds with your actions. Back your advice with gold.

In essence, to change others, you have to be will and able to change yourself.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #717


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A Good Companion

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

They say a dog is a humans best friend. Being an owner of a dog, I completely agree. It’s hard to get a more loyal and happy companion than a your little furry friend 🐶.

However, I find it a little sad though. Because you would think, of all the people who would we our best friend, it would be ourselves. Shouldn’t we be our own best friend. Who is in better alignment with our dreams, thoughts, feelings, and emotions than ourselves? Shouldn’t we have the most sympathy and loyalty to ourselves?

And yet, we are usually our own worst critic. We don’t believe in our abilities. We think we can change, but never actually do. We hate who we are. We wear ourselves out with negativity, worry, regret, indecision and fear. And we even tend to go behind our own back without knowing!

How can we resolve this?

How do we become our own best friend?

First, we must learn who we are. It’s difficult to like someone who you don’t know anything about.

To do that, we have to be alone with ourselves.

Nature helps. Go be on the water or out in the woods. Rent a kayak, go for a hike or take a walk in the park. Motion helps too. A silent car ride on your way to work, or a road trip to the next town over. A morning bike ride or run. Do what you have to do to get yourself alone without technology or others.

Breathe. Be weird for a moment. Ask yourself questions. Listen for answers. Care about who you are. How would a friend treat you? What would a dog do? (W.W.D.D.?)

Second, we must learn to keep our past in the past. The past can cut us up daily. Maybe you’re not proud of a decision or moment in your past. Maybe a regret haunts you to this day. And, most of all, maybe you’re mad or resentful or envious about decisions someone else made to you or for you. How often do you let the past – something out of our control – rule over your day? One bad egg shouldn’t ruin the bunch. A head in the past has no bite in the present and no ambition for the future. Let. It. Go. Light a prayer lantern. Do a seance. Dance naked under the moon (please don’t do this). But serious, seek advice, seek council, find help. Let go of who you were, so you can be who are are.

Seek out ways to let go of your ghosts. They’ve gotten you this far, but you don’t need them any longer.

List out all the benefits you can think of for a difficult moment in your past has helped you. List all the downsides of it not happening.

Third, we also must learn who we want to be, and let go of any shortcomings or flaws we have and struggle with on our way towards our ideal self.

The goal is to be okay with who we are and what we’ve got to work with, while at the same time continuously pursuing a better version of our selfs.

I know, It’s a weird balance. There’s a lot of pitfalls that can get us stuck. The key is understanding that the ideal self is the goal, but never the end goal. The point isn’t to make our best self the end all be all. The point is to try with all of our might. The value is in the act of pursuit, not reaching a moment. The top of the mountain is fleeting. The top of the second mountain isn’t any more satisfying. The joy comes from the climb up. The pursuit of meaning is what matters.

If we can master these three things, AND have a dog — we’ll practically be unstoppable*.

(* until we die anyway)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #707


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Being self-made is overrated

“Every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together.”

Paul Ryan

The problem, or perhaps the privilege, of being born is that we come into this world with a mental blank slate. Sure, we’ve got our innate basic instincts, our DNA and our own unique character traits. But we don’t know what we got ourselves into being by born.

We don’t come out of the womb knowing how to use a spoon, or drive a car, or how to look up questions on Google. Which means every kid born today (just like we did) has to start from scratch to learn the ABC’s of life. With so much going on nowadays, it’s easy for me to forget that in one point in my life I didn’t know how to tie my shoes, and riding a bike was a riddle wrapped in an enigma.

There’s a small bit of pride we should take from coming so far in life. Not that knowing how to use a spoon makes us unique, but our capacity to learn, and learn a lot relatively* quickly is a powerful thing and interesting to think about. (*human to humans anyway. Computers have us beat.)

Knowledge is passed down to new generations through teaching (verbally or written). To make things more complicated, knowledge is not distributed equally. Natural silos obscure and diffuse information from being easily accessed. Why weren’t we all taught how to eat healthy or how to invest in the stock market? Well, because not all of those who came before us (some being our parents) knew how to do those. Some did, some didn’t. (That would be a great one sentence history book of humanity: Some did, some didn’t.)

A wealthy family might know, but perhaps you weren’t born into a wealthy family. Or a grandmother might be able ‘to teach you a thing or two about nutrition’… the problem is she wasn’t your grandma, she was someone else’s. Essentially: We have to RELEARN EVERYTHING for ourselves.

There’s great value for learning and doing things yourself. Initiative is hard to teach. You’ve gotta want the vision for your life so badly that you’d give all your time, energy and attention towards achieving it.

Being self-made is rewarding, but it’s also lonely. It gives you creativity, clever thinking skills and resiliency, but without friends to share it with, what’s the point? I think we can have it both ways. We can pursue the things we love, be independent while also be willing to work better with others.

Be self-made, together.

We can go much further with like minded individuals who got our backs and want us to succeed then we can go it alone.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #691


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How to Help Someone (And Ultimately Help Yourself in the Process)

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.

Richard P. Feynman

There’s a funny, slightly insulting quote you’ve likely heard, from the author and dramatist George Bernard Shaw, that goes “He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches”. And perhaps, an even funnier follow-up quote by Woody Allen, saying “Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym.”

Now that I’ve insulted every teacher and, specifically, gym teacher reading this, I’d like to discuss a somewhat related idea (that might be a bit more helpful to us than criticizing our doing and teaching abilities):

If you can’t help yourself, try helping others.

When we hear about other people’s problems, Why do we think they are so much easier to solve than our own?

Because we can usually see their — our friend, family member, coworker, boss, etc —problem with a clear mind and come up with linear ideas and strategies to solve it. Our problems are too close to us because we are the ones dealing with them (and at the same time trying not to have a panic attack and emotionally eating an entire cake). And it’s the same both ways. They might see your problems and think they are easy to solve, just like you think the same about theirs. In reality, most problems are messy and hard to deal with. But we make them harder by weighing them down with fear and blindly try to fix things without clarifying the problems first. Clarity is key.

Clarity is what we can give to others. And clarity is what we need for our own problems. We need to see all the visible cards on the table and think through (and gut feel) our way through the cards we don’t know about.

How do you help someone gain clarity about their problems? Have a conversation with them. And more importantly, listen to them. Be a sounding-board first; A helper second. Sometimes all we need is to hear ourselves speak aloud about our problem. Having a person in front of us who is giving us eye contact, nodding their heads every so often, and allowing us to talk is a great way to do that and really hear what we need to hear.

After, listening, giving actionable advice and ideas is another way we can help someone. I believe advice needs to come from a neutral place. The point of helping is not to tell them what you think is best for them. You need to think about the advice that is best for who they are and what their goals are. Remember, we’re not trying to make clones of ourselves. We’re trying to help others be the best version of themselves they can be. Not the best versions of us they can be.

Of course, sometimes people don’t know what they need. Use your best judgment. Some skills and piece of advice are universal. For example, building a better community and support group around you who all want you to succeed is always a great idea. (Or at least, I’ve never heard or read anyone giving the opposite advice — ‘don’t be friends with anyone. support groups will get you nowhere’ 😜)

However, there’s a caveat I would be remiss if I didn’t say: we first need to make sure that the person (or people) we are trying to help actually want our help. If we’re just telling them what to do and giving them a dozen ideas to try that they don’t want and didn’t ask for, the help isn’t going to work. And related, it’s always good if you can back up your advice with experience. If you haven’t taken your own advice, very few people are actually going to listen. Help works where it’s needed, not where it’s assumed to be needed.

By putting our energy towards helping others, we end up helping others and helping ourselves. Not only do we do a good thing by lifting someone up when their down and teaching them something valuable, we also begin to feel better about our own circumstances and problems because we are no longer are wasting so much energy into doubt, fear and worry about ourselves. By channeling our energy towards others, we’ve taken away energy that we would be giving to fearing our own issues.

Giving a helping hand doesn’t have to be just people we know too. We can also help others online or in our local community that we haven’t met. We could even put energy towards helping a group of people, like the homeless, or a type of need, like clean water.

In a roundabout way, helping others usually helps ourselves in the process. We gain motion through the act of helping others, and in the process gain the confidence and momentum we need to help ourselves.

How can you leverage your skills, connections and extra resources to help others?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #684

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Related

“Help others and give something back. I guarantee you will discover that while public service improves the lives and the world around you, its greatest reward is the enrichment and new meaning it will bring your own life.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger

“It’s also selfish because it makes you feel good when you help others. I’ve been helped by acts of kindness from strangers. That’s why we’re here, after all, to help others.”

Carol Burnett