Sunday, August 14, 2016

Insight vs. Advice

While reading Neil Pasricha's new book The Happiness Equation, I was struck by his chapter regarding advice.  His main assertion is "don't take advice."  This seems like odd advice because it completely contradicts itself, but the more I thought about it, the more I seemed to agree with it.

When people offer advice to you, whether solicited or not, they are sharing what they would do from their perspective.  No matter how hard they try to imagine themselves in your shoes, they cannot fully understand your perspective.  

It certainly is important to seek the perspectives of others when you are making difficult decisions or have questions about how you should proceed, but you don't want to give away all of your control by taking someone else's advice.  To do so robs you of your ability to think honestly from your own perspective.  This can lead you to make decisions that are not authentic to your own personality.

Rather than seek advice from others, you should seek to gain insight.  The experiences of others can provide valuable information that you can use to better understand a situation you are facing.  This is what insight means: to gain a deeper understanding of someone or something.  This is the ingredient that you need to make difficult decisions and navigate big challenges.

Instead of asking others "what do you think I should do?" you can ask them "have you ever faced a similar situation? What did you do?"

The benefit of asking people questions about what THEY did, felt, or thought is that you will hear authentic responses from their perspective.  You then have the ability to compare their experiences to your situation from your own perspective.  This is very important because the only person who truly understands your perspective is YOU. 

Gaining insight from others allows you to take full control over your decisions and actions.  When you take advice from others, you are giving away your control.