Words from Dic(tionary)
Advise: (v) to offer suggestions about the best course of action to someone
You can spend your time lamenting why things are the way they are, or you can learn how they are and make clever adjustments to try to restore them to normalcy.
That’s the truth.
So with that in mind, let me tell you that giving advice is similar to playing tennis with a third leg protruding from the middle of your back. At first you might think it’s a good idea, but when you get out there, hittin’ the ball, you pretty much want to reach back there and yank the thing off.
Let me say it loud and risk the critique of those around me: Americans don’t take advice. So don’t advise them. They feign interest. They pretend to be intrigued if they think you have enough clout to be worthy of their ears, but they will just as quickly leave the room and go do things exactly the way they envisioned.
So here is my idea of what to do when the instinct to advise begins to tickle at the corners of your conscience:
- Find out what people really want to do and understand it thoroughly.
- Discover what parts of their aspiration are dangerous, illegal or stupid.
- Don’t share these discoveries with them directly.
- Take the balance of what is not self-destructive in the plan and encourage it heavily.
There you go.
Even though there is conventional wisdom which says there is great benefit in a multitude of counselors, this is only true if you listen to them. Since listening is not only a lost art, but more like a Nazi book burning–totally rejected by most people as they dance around the fire–it’s a good idea to establish a pattern of encouragement for smart while ignoring stupid.
- If we did this in politics, for example, we could soon eliminate bad ideas by giving them no air play.
- If we did it in religion, the better parts of God which benefit humankind, could be thrust to the forefront, while ignoring abstract traditions.
- And if we did it in our personal lives, we would soon find that the weird things we’re pursuing are actually rather boring in the long run, and we could turn vegetables into candy. (Well, I went too far there. But at least we could find things to pour over vegetables which would make them edible.)
So you can feel free to ask for advice, but you must understand that folks expect you to heed it.
The best thing to do is to pay close attention to what works, what blesses, what enhances and what uplifts … and try to do that again tomorrow.