How to Progressively Improve Your Level of Advisors
by Keith Glines
The TIME’s headline reads, “Don’t Trust Wikipedia When It Comes to Your Health.” The study revealed that 9 out of 10 Wikipedia entries were erroneous and had inaccurate assertions. The odds of getting good advice from Wikipedia is not worth banking on.
Let’s face it, there is a lot of free advice available — blogs, wikipedia, websites, etc. — however, not all advice is good, factual, unbiased, or relevant to your current circumstances. When it comes to advice, it requires a good understanding of the specifics in your present and future needs. That’s why it’s important to have a more strategic approach to getting advice.
One of the things I’ve realized as I have grown more strategic in my business and in my personal life is that crowd advice doesn’t work for me. Again, crowd advice is the blanket statements and generalized wisdom that people throw around that isn’t necessarily applicable to me personally. Crowd advice is good to some degree but must be drawn down to specifics to be sound. As I become more successful the pool of people who can advise me has continually shrunk.
When I was starting out, grasping to make my way in business, in my marriage, even while raising my children, my advisors really didn’t cost me anything. My mentors were limited to those who were within relationship or within reach to me. As much as I appreciate those who were there for me at that time, their advice isn’t appropriate for me at this stage of my life. In fact, in some cases, those who once were giving advice are now seeking advice from me. In other cases, some of the ones who gave me advice stumbled in their own business or destroyed their own marriages.
Interestingly, while reading the story of Moses as he is leading and transitioning millions of people from being slaves in Egypt into citizens of Israel, I found an ingenious strategy for getting advice.
As you’re aware, Moses had received advice from God, as a friend speaks to a friend, on how to confront Pharaoh to demand the Israelite’s release. Moses was in a special position as a leader—he received firsthand counsel from God—but the people did not have the same access that he enjoyed. That wisdom was unaccessible to them directly, so they all wanted to speak to Moses.
Every day, Moses would take a seat to speak directly with everyone who had a problem. Imagine how clumsy, difficult, and frustrating that would be for the millions of people. Yet, in order to succeed, they had to take the necessary steps to get the advice.
Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law saw how the people would overwhelm Moses, said, “What you’re doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.”
Jethro suggested they implement a system for advising the people. He told Moses to select and teach qualified men on how to live, what to do, and specific principles that are applicable for everyone. If they encountered a situation that proved new or too difficult they were to bring it to the next level of advisers who were more experienced. If none of these were able to give sound advice they were to bring it to Moses.
This system ensured that Moses would only handle the most difficult of situations.
Here’s the lesson that I’ve learned. As my business experience has matured, the advice that got me to one level isn’t necessarily the advice that will get me to the next level. I must continually seek out those who are in a better position and perspective to advise me.
This next level of advice has an increased cost to me, but it also brings an increase in value as well.
Here are 7 keys to obtaining next-level advisors:
1. Look around you.
Who do you have within reach to get advice? Qualify them. Who has successfully navigated the particular area of your need? Business? Marriage? Raising children? This may be an acquaintance or a complete stranger at the moment but if they’re willing, offer to take them to lunch or schedule a meeting with them. You will be amazed how many successful people have the desire to share their success story and offer advice to others. They simply need to be asked.
2. Read a book.
If you don’t know someone or can’t find someone to mentor you on a particular subject, find a book on the subject. While you read it, underline every statement that rings true to your situation. Reading an authoritative book is one of the most inexpensive ways to get good advice. It’s important to remember that a book may start out as “crowd advice,” but when you are underlining and highlighting specific statements that relate to you it becomes personal and takes on a new value for you.
3. Don’t confuse sympathy for solutions.
If you want sympathy go to a friend, if you want solutions go to a mentor. Friends are awesome but they aren’t necessarily the best source for advice.
4. Go to the knowing for knowledge.
In other words, get an expert on the subject. Go to a practitioner not a theorist. I won’t go to an unhealthy doctor to gain health advice. I don’t get financial advice from a destitute person. I don’t get spiritual advise from an atheist. It’s disingenuous when a parent loses their children to drugs or alcohol abuse because they assume they’re an expert on the subject of raising emotionally healthy children.
5. Before you trust, you should test.
I know a guy who claims a lot of expertise in areas where he has no business giving advice. He has many theories but no results. He’s fluttered around giving everyone his “genius” advise but has never proven anything by his own work. As Neil Kennedy says, “When I was young and naive, I trusted. Now that I am older and wiser, I test.”
6. Attend conferences or seminars that address your need.
Michael Hyatt suggest that you attend specific knowledge conferences not only for the shared knowledge from the speakers but also for the networking of other like minded attendees. As Solomon said, “Walk with the wise, you will grow wise.” (Proverbs 13:20)
7. Be willing to pay more for better advice.
As you progress in business or in life, you will need better advisors. They will not come cheap, nor should they. Be willing to pay more.
Keith Glines is social media strategist, an adventurer,
husband, father, and follower of Christ.