The Value of Advice

Sometimes I’ll mess something up, badly and repeatedly, until I finally figure it out. Often there’s a lesson to be learned in doing that, and I’m happy to learn it – but all knowledge is costly. In that case, I paid for my knowledge with an expensive and lengthy comedy of errors, and I’ll often reflect on whether or not there was a more efficient way to get the same knowledge.

Looking around at smoking ruins, lessons learned can seem pyrrhic. Sure, there’s a certain nobility in getting your lessons at the School of Hard Knocks, but sometimes it’s better to just pay the nominal fee to someone else that’s already done that and learn it the easy way. You don’t have to get ALL your information from a crucible.

But if you have, maybe you should share it. After all, there’s no real value in saying “I learned this the hard way, so you should too.” The Hard Way isn’t The Best Way. And in fact, one of the best ways to recover from a long series of missteps is to turn them into a viable product for others.

Want to hear the story of how I utterly crashed a business? It’s full of failures and mistakes. How about the worst interview performance I ever gave? Or maybe do you want to hear about time I got arrested? These are all true things. Big failures. Massive learning opportunities, and they helped sharpen me into the person I am now. But that doesn’t mean you need to repeat my mistakes in order to gain my super powers. Maybe you can get the reflexes without the painful spider-bite.

Besides, that leaves you more room to make new, exciting mistakes of your own! And you will. And you’ll pass them on, too, if you’re smart. And the whole world will get better, as we teach each other.

If I can see farther, it’s because I stand on the broken shoulders of giants. I invite you to stand on mine, if you like.

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