Advice, Truth, and Perspective

A few days ago I received a good bit of advice from a friend.  It wasn’t the kind of advice you ask for.  Rather, it was the kind of advice you receive from someone who sees into your blind spot.  In my experience, that kind of advice can be far more valuable than the kind you seek out and ask for, albeit probably not as enjoyable to hear.

It got me thinking about our criteria for allowing certain people into our circle of influence.  In one respect, we all value the advice of an expert.  They have credentials and experience we find comforting and therefore value their opinion.  Sometimes we know them personally, sometimes we read their books, occasionally we may even travel a great distance to sit in row 476 just to hear them speak.  While expert opinion is great, it’s not been my primary source for meaningful advice.

There are 3 people in my life whose personal advice has shaped me more than my entire collection of books.  Their unique ability to influence me comes from one common denominator.  Not expertise, but perspective.  Specifically, their ability to see into, and speak directly toward my blind spots.  I suppose it goes without saying that truth is a prerequisite here.  Truth and perspective, when combined, create the ideal foundation for life changing advice.  While 3 have had the majority of influence, there have certainly been others.

None of that makes me ready to give up the benefit of the expert.  On a general and theoretical level, it’s the best advice per pound there is.  But when given the choice between the general precision of experts and the focused truth with individual perspective…I’ll take the latter.

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