Saturday, 31 August 2013

Can you take Advice from Someone that isn't Successful?

Robert Kiyosaki said that you should take advice from rich people, not sales people.  He explained that buying financial products from brokers I.e. the salespeople you would earn modest returns at best and instead make the broker rich from the fees you pay him. You are better served listening to a rich person that has actually made money.

Kiyosaki's wisdom resonated with me so much that I proceeded to adopt this attitude towards all facets of life.  If someone advised me on money and they weren't rich I would reject their advice and think to myself: If that's true then how come YOU arent rich?

My stance was consistent: be it single people giving relationship advice or scrawny guys sharing workout tips. If you wanted to tell me how to do anything, you had better be at the pinnacle of your game.  I firmly held this view until a personal situation saw me sitting on a counselor's couch.  (Never thought I would see the day, but sometimes you can only get a balanced, constructive viewpoint from a stranger.)  I didn't know anything about her personal life beyond the fact that she was married and had one child.  Here was someone I couldn't measure against my standards for success, so I was forced to take her advice without first pouring it through my usual filtration system and instead just practice what she told me (paying for her time was also incentive to try her advice).

The routines and exercises she shared turned out to be very helpful I realized with some shame that the success levels in her life should have had little influence on my assessment of her advice in any case.  In fact her situation is irrelevant.  What matters is whether her suggestions work for me, not for her.  

When a person opens up to you, it's usually out of genuine concern. You have the right to reject what they say and not all advice is properly thought out or fundamentally sound.  But one should never dismiss a person based on their situation.  So gauge the message, not the messenger.  People who cannot make their own advice work for them don't deserve to be ignored because the problem may be in the way they implement their advice, not in the effectiveness or fundamental soundness of the advice itself.

Imagine that a poor friend tells you to invest in real estate when you want to buy a pricey new luxury car. Because he isn't rich you ignore him and buy the most expensive car you can afford.  Ten years down the line you cross paths with him and he's now wealthy.  You finally believe his advice because he has the results to validate what he told you ten years ago; but you also just delayed financial progress by ten years because for the past decade you felt he wasn't worth listening to.  

In the end, your prejudice prejudices you the most.  A drunkard can provide valuable insight into preventing alcoholism and a person that's studied many businesses (but not started any themselves) can share pitfalls that a budding entrepreneur should avoid.  Try to assess what people tell you against your knowledge, experience and common sense -- not against what you think constitutes a qualified opinion-maker.

The Happy Uprising is available on Kindle for $2.99 (prices may vary by region). 
Amazon Review: "This is a well written, smart and happy book about getting oneself out of the ruts we often find ourselves in - not only in the job market but also in life. Highly recommended - well worth the price."

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