Whether solicited or unsolicited, as a young professional I am always being given some sort of advice. From financial decisions to career moves and etiquette, advice is both necessary for growth and often the cause of failures. People often see something in you that reminds them of themselves and want to impart knowledge onto you to help you get to the places that you want to be. It can be small advice like how early to show up to a job interview, or more significant advice like what company to work for. The ability to discern the differences between good advice, great advice and terrible advice is something you can only build through experience, however I have found the following helpful when being confronted with so much (often conflicting) information.
People are not always trying to be helpful when giving advice
Hard to believe, right? This was the first lesson that I learned after completing graduate school and being introduced to life after college. Although it was not the easiest or most comforting lesson to learn, it was more than necessary. People are not always “on your side” and often have ulterior motives. Make sure that the people who you take advice from are the ones who are actually invested in you as a person and want to see you grow.
Do not let “people-pleasing” lead you to bad decision-making
This is one lesson that I think many people, even those more experienced than myself, tend to forget. Naturally, most people are people-pleasers and want to win the friendship and admiration of others. We do not like to disappoint and will go out of our way to make people feel better. One of the ways this translates with advice is wanting to make the decisions that others advise you to make in order to prove your loyalty and respect. Stop and remind yourself that loyalty and blind allegiance are not the same.
Some of the most successful people often ignore the advice of others
This was one of the most recent lessons that I learned about advice. If you think about it, there is going to be at least one time in your career and life when you have to make a decision based a circumstance unique to you. Reliance on other people’s opinions will be impractical. If you want to be the first, the best and the greatest, there will definitely come a time where you have to trust yourself. Learn how to give yourself your own advice.
When you take someones advice, you are preparing yourself to be in their shoes. You ultimately have to ask yourself if those are the shoes that you want to be in.
This last lesson is one of my new mottos in life. After being overwhelmed by conflicting advice from my peers and mentors, I realized that the one thing that I had to understand is that taking advice is a means to and end. That end is often predictable based on the situation of the person giving the advice. In simple terms, take money advice from people who have made money the way that you plan to. Take career advice from people in the positions that you want to be in.