Listen, when I was a kid around fourteen years old, I still remember talking to one of my dad’s friends.
So we’re on the back porch and it’s a beautiful summer night.
He’s got a cigar in his mouth, and my dad has a cigar in his mouth.
I was asking him (my dad’s friend) advice for the future, because I explained that I was going to college in a couple years – so he unleashed a bit of his wisdom.
“Dude, I’ve gotta give you just one piece of advice – make sure you really enjoy those college years, because from then on out, it’s all work and all suffering, so make sure you really take the time to enjoy those years!”
And even though I was only fourteen at the time, I very clearly remember the emotion I first felt:
Fuck that! why the hell would I want four years of my (hopefully 95+ year life) to be done by the time I’m 22? Does that really make sense?
Whether you’re in your 20s or 30s, you’re going to get a lot of advice from a lot of different from people.
People have advice about everything.
And guess what?
A lot of the advice might be good, but a lot of it sucks too.
Here’s the thing: everyone has advice for everything, and the irony is that the less successful a person is in any domain in their life, the more likely they are to want to give you advice.
You’ll have fat friends giving you weight loss advice, to divorced people giving you marriage advice, to people who have struggled their entire lives giving financial advice, or miserable people giving happiness advice.
Unfortunately, the average person giving you advice is probably giving you – no surprise – average advice.
Because of this, there’s actually a very big danger in taking advice – and there are two things I personally use to vet advice to see if it’s really good for me.
Why You Shouldn’t Take 99% Of the World’s Advice
The Curse of Getting “Advice” in Your 20s
My first core principle here is simple:
Do not take advice from the average person.
Thankfully, I spotted this when I was a really young kid, like an overweight person giving me weight loss advice or an unsuccessful person giving theoretical success advice, or the college advice from the guy that was miserable after the age of twenty-two.
Why the hell would I take his advice when he obviously didn’t do a very good job of being happy after that time?
The paradox is that average people have even MORE advice because they haven’t lived it (so it’s all theory).
Take a look at this “tale of two friends” you might get advice from.
One friend comes home and bitches about his job every day.
Then you have another friend who maybe has gone through a process to find her dream job or build a business.
You’re getting advice from both of them, and you’re trying to figure out who to trust since, “they both make sense.”
One might’ve seen other people do it, but the other has lived it (so they can describe the internal struggle and problems that arise).
Then to make the problem even worse, you probably googled the same thing: How do I find my dream job? How do I land more interviews? How do I become more successful?
Now you’re stuck with an almost unlimited amount of advice you can’t even possibly use in one lifetime.
What do you do?
Ask yourself two questions.
Question #1 To Ask Yourself
The very first question is… do they have the life I want?
Really, think about that for a second here.
This might really be the most important question.
Is the person giving you fitness advice fit?
Is the person giving you financial advice at least sort of financially healthy?
Or is the person giving you relationship advice in an obviously good relationship?
Are they living it?
That’s the first piece.
There’s a lot to be said for people who know things but who haven’t lived them (see #2), but nothing can replace being in the arena.
There are a lot of “virgins talking about sex” in the world, which would be like watching a gladiator fight to the death and claiming that you know something about being a gladiator.
The truth is, you don’t know shit about the arena unless you’ve been in the arena.
The entire plan you have about dodging, moving, slashing, and taking blows goes out the window when you see someone draw your own blood, and the adrenaline level is so high you piss yourself as the other combatants come out.
Nothing can replace the arena, which is why I value the advice of people in the arena the most.
They can tell you things about the internal experience of goal-achievement that nobody can.
Question #2 To Ask Yourself
And now, question #2: have they coached someone through it?
When you go to the doctor’s office, chances are your doctor hasn’t had crohn’s disease, cancer, diabetes, hepatitis… but they’ve treated thousands of pateints for those things.
As a result, they know what to look for, they know the signs and symptoms and they know exactly how to treat the conditions.
The other thing is simple: have they coached somebody else through this?
A doctor hasn’t had every illness, but knows how to fix them.
A coach may not have 100% been in your situation, but if they coached dozens or hundreds of people they can often spot the weaknesses, flaws, and strengths in the people that succeed or don’t.
That’s actually the approach I took in my book Master the Day.
I actually was never overweight in my life, so where was my credibility?
I Interviewed dozens of people that lost 100+ pounds and kept it off by changing habits, then applied it to friends and clients, and got them results.
That became my new compelling story.
Changing Your Story
This is really, really important because there’s a lot of fucking horrible advice out there.
Most people just haven’t lived advice – think about it – we’re in an epidemic of people telling you to get a safe job who are miserable, or people telling you to find your passion (because they never went down that path).
When people haven’t lived advice, what do they advise their kids on?
Their mistakes. What they think is right. What they see others doing.
I spotted early on that most people giving me advice did NOT have the life I wanted, so I had to create benchmarks early on (and put the puzzle together by myself).
Sometimes this means ignoring the people you most respect.
Sometimes it means ignoring your best friends, your family, or your parents.
Sometimes it means ignoring all the advice from your teachers and mentors.
And sometimes it means you just have to get yourself bloody in the arena, figure things out for yourself, and learn what works by getting punched in the face and swung at.
What was the worst piece of advice you ever got? Share below.