When I first began thinking about writing this post, I thought that I could distill it down to just one thing. I was wrong. I have received a lot of advice over the years. Both good and bad and somewhat foolish. A few things were timely, and a few things for timeless. Oh, I know what I consider to be the single most important piece of advice that I ever received that will work for everyone, and don't worry, I will give that piece of advice to you in this post.
Why is this so hard? Because it's not just about receiving advice; it is about applying that advice and taking action. It leads to a broader question of how you decide what is good advice and what is bad advice.
So what is the single most important piece of advice that I have ever received?
It is simply to ask the question. “What is the best advice you've ever received?” I'm not speaking rhetorically here. It is not enough to ask yourself this question. You need to ask other people this question and pay attention to their answers.
I heard John Maxwell speak a few months ago at a conference. It surprised me when he brought this question up. As he was speaking from the stage, he explained how he commonly asked this question when he is having dinner with groups of people. He goes around the table, person by person, and asks this question. He said that he has both learned more about getting and receiving advice, and been able to delve into the minds of the people that he surrounds himself with more quickly and more effectively. I would have to agree with him.
In asking this question you're going to hear some great advice from all different types of people. You will also find out a great deal about the people to whom you asked this question. Their responses are very intriguing.
Those who are reflective or spend more time in self-development will usually come up with a well thought out answer fairly quickly. Some may pause for a moment, staring to open space, and you will see the wheels turning in their head as they try to pick an answer.
Many will have no response at all other than a quick "I don't know." These people may be people of action and lack reflection, but many have reached a wall both in their business and their ability to move forward. “They can’t see the forest for the trees.” I know this is a cliché, but if we ever stop searching for a better way, a happier way, a more efficient way, or just quit listening or paying attention to the things around us, we will never end up where we ultimately want to be.
[shareable cite="@chrismoorelive"]Never stop searching for a better way or listening to those around you, or you will never end up where you want to be.[/shareable]
So ask this question of people that you meet through different areas of your life. Learn from them. Reflect on both their answers and how they answer, and then intentionally focus on how you can apply what you learned to your own life or circumstance. Some things you may just pack away for another day, another time, or you may learn something to help someone you meet.
By the way, what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?