Mentorship And Advice: Is there A Difference?
This morning I want to share with you some ideas on mentorship and advice.
It appears to me that there is nothing inherently good, bad, right or wrong about advice. It seems to be more about how open we are and how we use it.
There have been times I’ve taken advice, both solicited and unsolicited.
My father told me one day back in 2001 not to go into business for myself, to stay working for other people. He suggested it was safer.
I ignored that advice to my short-term advantage, my medium-term detriment and my long-term advantage.
On reflection, the advice was wrong, then it was right, then it was wrong again.
I received advice from a business advisor just as the worldwide economy was crashing in late 2009, to close my business and start again.
That advice I ignored short-term only later to take the advice. It was wrong then it was right.
In actual fact, looking back it was more like he was showing me what I knew I needed to do anyway. I just wasn’t ready to accept it.
There are so many things that influence the taking, giving and acting on advice I feel it’s not possible to come to an ultimate conclusion.
However, there are a couple of things of importance I’d like to dig into here today.
The Daily Larb Episode 099
Yesterday evening Paul O’Mahony, Kingfish and I had an exchange on the subject of mentorship and advice. I later turned those audio clips into episode 99 of The Daily Larb.
After listening to those ideas again I felt that I needed to flesh this subject out a little more.
Mentorship and advice are not the same in my eyes. Better to say perhaps, mentors and advisors are not the same.
In an official capacity from a business perspective, mentors occupy an inside position very close to the very heart of us.
They have access to or at least should have access to, our deepest inner thoughts and ideas about who we are and what place we occupy in the world.
Therefore they need to be highly trusted.
Mentors are older more experienced people than we are, often in more than one area of expertise.
Their knowledge and experience are usually broad.
Advisors are perhaps more focused on the technical elements. A financial advisor can suggest how best to invest business profits but they won’t ask you how you feel about it.
Advisors are largely motivated by fees. Mentors often work with us out of a desire to give something back, to help the novice gain experience.
I’m not attempting to be definitive here, this is merely how mentors and advisors can be viewed generally.
All Advice Is Information
All advice is simply information. We either choose to take it on board and use it or we don’t.
The successful application of said advice is usually deemed good advice. The unsuccessful application, bad advice.
But in the case of my unsuccessful application of advice from mentors or trusted advisors, what made the advice bad?
Was is my execution?
Was the advice inherently bad?
For some people, acting on that same piece of information it may have been the best advice they ever received. Perhaps it was how I used it was the problem.
Maybe I knew the answer already and I needed to learn something important.
The problem I feel that exists within many human beings is that we feel others know better, that our inner nudges, our gut feelings can’t be trusted.
I believe that to be a flawed notion.
I think it was Paul mentioned in his contribution yesterday that we are our own best advisors. I’ll go a step further and say we are our worst advisors also.
In that then, there can only be the benefit of experience because words don’t teach, experience teaches.
Maybe there is only our decision about the goodness or badness of the information based on our short-term view and retrospective analysis.
A Final Word On Mentorship And Advice
Some people can’t hear you.
Even when they come to you specifically for your advice, they simply can’t process and apply the information.
Others can’t hear you because they already know everything they need to know. And in that state of knowing it all, there is pure ignorance, a blindness to the information’s value.
But even this is to their ultimate advantage for how will they know what they need to know without first making the biggest mistakes?
All errors and mistakes are valuable, but only if we can accept that we really know nothing.
Knowing is to be unaware, blinkered.
The best scientists on the planet understand that in the pursuit of knowledge it is less they know and understand. From this position, they can help advance our species.
When we know something absolutely we, in the act, close ourselves to new information. We define ourselves.
And that’s how it should be because in that place we can learn, hopefully.
There’s a lecture from my favourite dead guru that goes like this…
And so the Upanishads say, ‘If you think that you understand Brahman, you do not understand. You have yet to be instructed further. If you know that you do not understand, then you truly understand, for the Brahman is unknown to those who know it, and known to those who know it not. – Alan Watts, Give it away.