People love to give advice. The issue with that, however, is that some of these people (even though we love them) are kind of full of shit. You know who I’m talking about. They’re kinda limited by their knowledge and negative experiences of their own past and can’t, for the life of them, formulate a response to your problem without revisiting their own.
So, how does one choose the right friend to advise on a problem? Of course, Zenfulie has three quick rules to help figure that out.
Find the “been there and overcame that” friend
Misery loves itself some good company. However, if you are ready to proactively work your way out of a situation, the last thing you need is someone who is in the exact same spot as you — and has been there for a very long time. While their advice will probably be sincere and supportive, they often lack the perspective of life moved beyond your shared misery.
Miserable coworkers are a great example of how this works well. If you hate your job and you are ready to leave, whose advice do you think will be more useful: the other guy who’s been there longer than you and still hates his job? Or the girl who stayed for two years, sniffed out the company’s bullshit, bounced as soon as she got her last promotion title and now works somewhere else and is waaaaay happier?
You talk to that girl. Duh. Not to say the other guy wouldn’t have great nuggets of wisdom, but if you really want to see your way out of a situation, you’ll do better if you can have the added intel of someone who has gotten out of it too.
Listen to the “sincerely honest without judgment” friend
This is the friend who’s on the phone with you, throwing pots and pans around in his kitchen while he talks to you, and is saying every uncomfortable thing you never want to hear but need to hear anyway. In fact, there is a high possibility you may feel temporarily shittier about your situation after you’re done talking. But it takes bravery and a lot of trust to be honest with someone. So if they are taking the time out of their schedule to lay down some wisdom, both generously and kindly, with a clear motivation to support and not tear you down, then usually this is a great advisor to have.
Just try not to reject everything they say initially. It’s a little hard to hear, but accept the gift, marinate on the words, and grow from what speaks to you. When you listen to advisors like this, they tend to become great champions for your happiness and future possibilities. And they never leave your side, even if it means they burn a few dinners while trying to help you out in the meantime.
Squeeze on the “fearless” friend
Sometimes the challenges we face in life are new to everyone around us. And while your friends and family will always want the best for your life, sometimes their version of best just isn’t what’s best enough for you.
This is where the crazy, fearless friend becomes helpful. They have been living their life on their own terms for a very long time. And while their advice may come in long-winded stories, or with a random song from 1987, their perspective on problem-solving is sometimes quite rich. Their list of limitations is usually shorter and they often have great answers for decisions that need a bit of daring action to make them successful. And so when you’re reaching for a new version of best, talking to a friend who doesn’t give a shit about anyone else’s opinions, expectations or rules can often be the biggest motivating voice of them all.
In the end, you’ll always gather the sum of everyone’s thoughts, along with your own, and make the decisions that you want to make. Whether they are good or bad or crazy. But if you’re aiming for good, and the choice is really tough, then reflective, honest and fearless voices will surely help get you a little closer to your goal. When you’re gathering advice, they should be among the first sources you seek.
For Tyler, Greg & Sarah