I loved this quote, and have seen variations of it for a long time. Being a big fan of Neil Strauss in general, I chose to use his recent tweet as the photo for this blog post.
Whether you are talking about relationship advice, personal finance, or a career pursuit, you REALLY NEED TO CONSIDER where the advice is coming from. As the quote above reminds us, there is no reason to take advice from someone who has not been down that path already.
I can speak from personal experience on this one, in several areas. Certainly my choice to quit college to pursue a career (albeit temporary) in Pro Racquetball, was not exactly greeted with open arms and cheers of joy from my family. In fact, just the opposite from some. In a few cases, some of the initial responses fell into the category of “You’re making a mistake with your life.” If you know anything about me at all, you know that I went down that path despite the protests and advice to the contrary. I am not exactly sure where the confidence to break out on my own came from at that time in my life, but I am sure glad it manifested itself when it did.
I knew, in the core of my being, that pursuing racquetball at the highest level was something I HAD to do. It wasn’t an option, I felt that strongly about it. If you have found something that you feel the say way about, I HIGHLY recommend you follow your heart.
I knew I had to answer that simple yet daunting question: What if?
I had the good fortune of reaching what I believe to be my absolute maximum potential as a Pro Racquetball Player. I considered myself fortunate to have traveled the US playing tournaments, meeting all kinds of people including famous athletes, and learning more about myself through the venue of sport than I ever did in school. I answered the question, and I retired at 30 to start pursuing the rest of my life. Everything else was put on hold until I answered that question…
If you are getting relationship advice from someone who is in a toxic marriage, or the opposite, never in a lasting long term relationship, you may wish to politely nod and say thank you, but discard most of this advice. The best that may come from advice from people who mean well but have not walked that same path, is what NOT to do. That can be useful advice as well. I have a friend who has been married and divorced five times (!), and I learned FROM his mistakes instead of repeating them. Same goes for financial advice, starting a business, etc. For many, this stuff is too big and too scary to take a chance on. Most people sit on the sidelines, play “prevent defense” and never answer the question…What if?
Directly tied to the photo above would be the thought that you should not take criticism from anyone that you would not seek out for their advice. Kind of the same idea, right? If that person has not walked down the path you are considering, don’t ask for directions, and if you don’t value their advice, why would you let their criticisms have any impact on your either?
If you choose to pursue an entrepreneurial venture, keep in mind just how difficult it can be. You only ever hear about the success stories, not the large percentage of near misses and total failures. This is why almost everyone avoids this as a career move, it is brutal. You need more money than you ever calculate on your spreadsheet, a cast-iron stomach, nerves of steel and a lot of patience. It’s no picnic, trust me. But again, if you are Hell bent on doing this, be prepared for a lot of naysayers and advice on all the reasons not to go down that path. This choice may scare a lot of our support crew away; that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.
Life, in many ways, is an individual sport. You can’t do anything alone, but NO ONE is the same as you. Your parents, your birth order, your family dynamics, your up bringing, and a myriad of other factors all add up to you being a truly unique individual. Based on this, how can you really take to heart the words that someone says? Should you really let their opinions (and fears of the unknown) hold you back? To some degree, we all walk alone. Yes, we need to surround ourselves with positive people who support us and our efforts, but the reality is, no one can do it for you The journey is yours and yours alone. You are the one that will bear the burden, do the work, and either reap the rewards or crash and burn. Either way, the question will be answered; you’ll either hit it big or you’ll pick up the pieces and regroup. It will not be the end, if you prepare properly.