Lesson 1: The first step towards gaining wisdom is to recognize the value of advice.
Our life lesson today comes to us from King Solomon who said “Listen to advice and accept instruction and in the end you will be wise” (Proverbs 19:20).
What This Means to YOU…
If you’re like me, you have people trying to give you advice every day. Unfortunately, if you’re like me, that means you probably also find it difficult to listen to that advice. If that’s true, it could mean you’re letting a great deal of knowledge just slip through your fingers and that’s a problem because it means you’re making your life harder than it needs to be. Don’t let that happen to you – learn to accept advice and allow this wisdom to improve your life. My goal is to help you recognize what could be stopping from you accepting advice, to understand how to recognize good advice from bad, and to teach you how you can use this wisdom to help others.
3 Ways This Wisdom Can Help YOU…
Overcome Your Pride: perhaps the biggest obstacle that keeps us from accepting advice is our own pride. There are many reasons for this — it could be that we feel like we should be able to figure things out for ourselves, or we foolishly believe our ideas are always better than anyone else’s, or we are embarrassed to ask for help because we don’t want to appear stupid, etc. Regardless of the reason, the important thing to understand is that when you allow pride to stop you from listening to advice, you end up making your life more difficult than it needs to be because you limit yourself to only one solution source — you! The fact is that nobody knows everything and the sooner you and I realize that, the sooner we’ll know it’s foolish to let our pride stand in the way of gaining knowledge from others. I know it’s hard, but the next time you find yourself in a situation that you know you could use help with, do yourself a favor, swallow your pride, and be open to letting someone help you — you may be glad you did.
Recognize Good Advice: now that I have you at least willing to listen to advice, let me throw you a curveball – not all advice is good advice and it’s important to have some guidelines for sifting out the good from the bad. Perhaps the most important thing for you to do is to recognize the SOURCE of the advice – is the advice coming from someone who truly cares about you? If so, then it’s worth your while to at least listen. If not, move on. However, even if the advice is coming from a person you trust, that still doesn’t mean it’s going to help you. You can recognize good advice by asking yourself a few questions – here are some examples…
Is the person giving you advice qualified to provide it based on their own life experiences?
Did the person listen to you and attempt to understand your situation before giving you advice?
Does the advice give you realistic options that you feel motivated to pursue?
Are you certain the person giving the advice is not just trying to take advantage of you?
Does the advice still leave the final decision in your hands?
Does the advice make sense and do you feel good about it in your gut?
These questions are just examples; I encourage you to develop ones that make sense to you — come up with a list of simple and easy to remember questions that you can ask yourself when you are presented with advice. If the advice provided overcomes these Challenge Questions then it’s probably worth listening to. Remember this — just because you listen to someone’s advice doesn’t mean you necessarily have to follow it — the final decision on what to do remains with you. One bonus of seeking that advice is that you’ll have more confidence when you do take action to tackle your problem because you’ll know you invested extra time to seek wisdom and that extra confidence could be the final key you need to overcome your obstacle.
Provide Good Advice to Others: Let’s face it, the world needs more people who are willing to help others. I encourage you to be one of them. If you find yourself in a situation where you have the opportunity to give advice to someone else and you have knowledge you believe could help them, then why not do it? You never know when your words could change or even save somebody’s life so don’t ignore helping someone if you can. That being said, it’s important that you give good advice not just any advice. But how? For starters you can apply the Challenge Questions from #2 above to yourself. In addition, you can use this simple formula: Listen First, Advise Second. How can you give advice to someone if you don’t listen and understand their situation? Once you do that you’ll be in a position to know if you can truly help them. If you can, then give them your advice, but be sure to respect their right to accept it or not – understand your job is only to share wisdom, the final decision rests with them. But what if you listen and realize that you can’t give them any helpful advice? That’s ok. You can still encourage them, pray with them, and perhaps point them towards someone else who can help them. It would be better to do this than to give them questionable advice because you are too proud or scared to admit you don’t know the answers either. Part of giving good advice is knowing your own limitations – recognize that and you’ll come full circle in understanding this lesson.
Don’t Wait, Use This Wisdom TODAY…
Pick a problem, any problem, then challenge yourself to ask someone you trust for advice.