Advice: What’s good, what’s not?

Recently I’ve been thinking about wisdom. What constitutes being wise and what part advice plays in this. I believe wisdom is absolutely critical, especially as we tackle the minefields in life, but finding it is not easy. You don’t have to be Yoda, the tiny Jedi Master who was over 800 years old, or Professor Dumbledore, the Headmaster of Hogwarts, to be wise – you could be anyone – but you do have to possess certain qualities. So, what are they?  

Let’s start with advice. I asked colleagues and friends what they felt qualified someone to give advice and they provided me with these answers:

  1. Expertise. There’s absolutely no point taking advice from someone who doesn’t actually have expertise in the area you’re concerned with. The ‘advice’ of well-meaning friends professing to know what the absolute value of a property is when I’m dealing with potential sellers and purchasers springs to mind. Expertise is more than just a baseline hunch! No matter what it is you are considering, talk with an expert, not an amateur – or worse, someone who masquerades as an expert. A live example for me was an individual offering to sell an investment opportunity. When I enquired how much he had invested in it, I got a red-faced ‘nothing’! That simple response allowed me to reconsider his advice. Always ask questions.
  2. Experience. This sits perfectly alongside expertise. My husband, John, refers to it as ‘runs on the board’. Both of us, when seeking advice, look for people with experience in a field, and meaningful testimonials, reviews or recommendations assist this process. Note to self: do your research and hunt out experienced people, companies or individuals if you want to benefit from wise counsel. I’ve also found a real willingness to help when you find the right person. The funny thing about experience is that several of the people I spoke with trust neither C.V.s nor photos, saying both can be made to look far ‘rosier’ than the reality. So, watch overzealous self-descriptions and over-filtered photos.

3.Trust. Everyone wants to trust the advice they are given. Trust is built up drop by drop. It’s destroyed in a fraction of the time it took to develop, so it needs to be protected. The person trusted as a source of advice needs to safeguard the sanctity and confidentiality (if required) of their advice and the recipient needs to know it was delivered in their best interests and without agenda. It’s actually a really big thing, so when you are trusted for being wise, treasure that.

Finally, be current. Some advice needs to be current and up to the minute. Small fortunes can be won or lost, especially in property, so take care that your advice reflects that. As much as I respect wise counsel based on years of experience if times have changed and new methodologies have evolved that needs to be considered too.

Measure and weigh, think and consider. If you’re a wise person you are probably in the minority – do something with that wisdom – and if it’s good advice you seek, then I hope I’ve helped.

-Lynette McFadden, Business Owner

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