I love quotes. I love it when someone is able to package words together in a memorable and insightful way. It’s not an easy task. Most of us throw out thousands of words a day, and few of them seem to stick. I stumbled upon a quote recently that stopped me in my tracks.
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”1
The quote is from the mid 900’s BC by the Jewish King, Solomon. Even though the quote is approximately 3000 years old, it is still incredibly powerful. We have the power to convince ourselves that we are right even when we are dead wrong. I bet you’ve got examples of this from your own life, I know I do. There are moments from my past that still cause me to cringe when I look back. At the time, however, I had convinced myself that I was right, or that what I was about to do or say didn’t really matter that much. Our ability to deceive ourselves is incredibly dangerous.
The second half of Solomon’s proverb describes how to deal with our powers of self-delusion. “A wise man listens to advice”. So, how can we embrace the wisdom of this thought and protect ourselves from being blindsided by bad decisions?
Seek Advice From Experienced Sources
Most of us have a consistent pool of people that we share our lives with. Most often, these people are a lot like us. They may have kids our age. They live the same neighborhoods, or attend a lot of the same activities. It’s natural to limit ourselves to the advice and insight of people in our peer group. The problem can be that those in our peer group are often limited by the same things that limit us. They are asking the same questions and facing the same challenges. It’s always a good idea to seek out someone a bit older who has had life experiences that you haven’t had yet. Find someone who has been in your business for 20 years longer than you have. If you have children, find someone with grandchildren. Experience is a powerful teacher, and if you can learn from someone else's experiences, you will save yourself a ton of grief and frustration.
Seek Advice Close To Home
Even though we don’t want to limit ourselves to our peer group when looking for advice, we definitely want to take advantage of what they have to offer. If you are a software designer, there are things only another software designer can teach you. If you are a stay at home mom, there are challenges that you face that only another stay at home mom can fully appreciate.
Clearly Ask For What You Want
Once you’ve found someone that may have wisdom that could help you, you will need to give that person permission to speak into your life. Many people are hesitant to share their thoughts and advice with others. No one wants to seem pushy or intrusive. If you really want to know what someone thinks about something, ask them directly. When they do share with you, make sure you receive what they say with grace and gratitude, even if what they share is tough to swallow! Sometimes the advice we need the most can make us uncomfortable. If you are gracious when others share with you, they will be more likely to share with you in the future.
We can all fool ourselves into thinking that we are right about everything going on in our lives. So, it’s important to have trusted sources of advice and wisdom that we can tap into. There are likely people already around you who can offer wisdom that would make your life better. Look for them and invite them into your life. You will be glad you did!
1 - Proverbs 12:15 (ESV)