I enjoy listening to audiobooks. I remember being at an airport in Spain on my way to see Steve Vai at the first Vai Academy. I was sitting just outside the terminal in the Sun, waiting for my connection and listening to Napoleon Hill audiobooks.
Napoleon Hill talks about success. He spent 25 years studying the greatest American industrialists and success stories, looking for any common themes they had and searching for what made these men and women so successful.
Then he wrote books about it, lectured about it and released magazines.
His creative output was enormous.
From listening to a few of his different lectures, I pieced together some ideas on effective ways to evaluate other peoples opinions.
We constantly get bombarded by other peoples opinions, their advice, and having a way to evaluate what people say is vital.
There’s a saying which goes, “There is nothing as cheap or abundant as other peoples opinions”.
So this is my three step process for figuring out how valid someone’s advice is.
1. Have they got those results for themselves?
Let’s say that you have saved some money and you are looking to invest it. Should you take investment advice from someone that is homeless… or a millionaire? That isn’t to say that both people can’t teach you some important lessons, but, if you are looking at where to pro-actively invest… I think only one of those people is going to have good advice,
Should you take fitness advice from someone who is a fat slob and can’t run 10m… or from someone built like a Greek God?
Easy choices right.
If someone is giving you life advice, ask yourself, “Does this person have the life that I want for myself?”. If you don’t want to live like that person… don’t take their advice. Many people may have ideas and opinions on how you can get what you want, and they might genuinely want to help, but, good ideas do not always work in reality.
You want ideas that are proven to work.
The advice someone gives you will get you the results they have achieved.
2. Have other people followed their advice and created results?
This is key for anyone looking for a teacher / mentor.
Sure, your teacher achieved that result for themselves. They got the body, or made the money, or achieved whatever other skill it was. But… and purely in the role of a teacher… if they can’t replicate that result for someone else, their advice is worth shit.
They will say they know how it works, why they made it and they will speak with absolute confidence and authority. It’s very easy to trust them… especially if they are telling you what you want to hear.
But if they have not been able to replicate the result for someone else… guess what, they either have no idea what it was they did that made them successful, or, they were just completely lucky.
3. Do they have any interest in the outcome of the advice they give you?
People rarely give advice from the perspective of what is going to be best for your and your life.
Often, their advice is parroting what they’ve been told throughout their life, the ideas and bromides they accepted without question. “Goto university, get a job, be miserable your whole life”.
Sometimes people give advice on the basis of their lack of self esteem – they don’t want to see you succeed or improve, because then they will feel bad about being a loser… so they, either intentionally or sub-consciously, give you advice to hold you back at their level.
Maybe they will financially gain from you following their advice?
So when someone gives you advice, ask yourself, “What’s in it for them?”. If you follow their advice, what do they stand to gain from it?
Is their advice a shallow attempt at protecting their fragile self esteem? Will they benefit in some undisclosed way from you doing what they advise?
“There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed.”
Now it might be a case that their advice creates a win-win scenario for both of you, which is awesome. So just because they gain something, does not mean the advice is bad or manipulative.
But you do need to be aware of their interest. You need to figure that out if they have allowed their interest to influence their advice.
It could be that they have nothing to gain… some people just can’t keep their mouths shut and the “advice” they give is just noise.
So next time you are wondering whether or not you should follow someone else advice, just run through those three questions, and you will know everything you need to know. Do you have any other ideas or suggestions? Leave a comment below.