Your quality of life and overall success are reflected in your relationships and the counsel you seek.
Think about it. You probably don’t want your children hanging around friends who don’t share your family values because of the potential negative influence in their lives.
Does this concept hold true for adults, as well? Yes!
During a conversation I had with Mark Victor Hansen of Chicken Soup for the Soul, he said he could predict a person’s net worth based on their five closest friends. It seems people’s circle of influence and the counsel they engage determine their results. This applies not only to friendships, but also to other areas of life, such as wealth, relationships, and fulfillment.
I find it difficult to understand why an individual needing advice seeks out someone who has either failed, or who does not have any experience in the related area.Here are just some examples:
- You are considering leaving your partner but want to try to make it work, yet you seek advice from individuals who have separated.
- You face challenges with parenting your children so you get feedback from other parents whose parenting skills are questionable or from individuals who don’t even have children.
- You are thinking about investing and you ask others with little or no experience in this area.
- You want to take a risk and change your career path,but ask people who have never done that.
- You are wondering about starting you own business but seek counsel from people who have never owned their own company.
However, don’t mistakenly assume you can do it all on your own and that you don’t need anyone’s wise counsel, either; this can lead to an ineffective or even adverse situation.
Years ago, I had to consider some major business decisions that would have a long-term impact on my life.In the middle of the process, it became clear I did not have the experience or the right counsel to add wisdom to the decision-making process. So I proactively engaged counsel from individuals who had plenty of experience in this area; I asked them to give me their perspective. Because these individuals did not have any stake in the outcome, it was simply a discussion about facts, with less focus on my emotions.
True wisdom is insight based on experience. As you know from social media today, everybody seems to have an opinion,but few have true wisdom. Rarely should you seek counsel from someone who has failed in an area, unless that person used it as a learning experience and can share what he or she would do differently—or did do differently, and then successfully.
Be very careful when seeking counsel. For example, you might not want to ask:
- your accountant for investing advice unless he/she is an investor;
- your banker for financial strategies unless he/she is using those strategies;
- your realtor about real estate investing unless he/she is a real estate investor in the specific area of your interest;
- your friends on how to start a business unless they own their own company; or
- a coach for success strategies if he/she is not successful.
Wisdom is about knowing, which is independent from a person’s age or the length of time he or she has been working in a specific area of expertise. Be discerning when choosing the people with whom you will be working. Base your judgment on the results they have achieved, not just the time they have spent in their given field. I know a high school teacher, who, after 20 years of teaching, was still incompetent.
The process of affiliation is powerful. Engage counsel from those who have gone before you at the highest level you can—within reason.This brings me to a very important point.
- If you are seeking counsel from others, make sure you ask how you can help them, too, so the process is not just one-sided. Honor the relationship; buy coffee and lunch, send a gift certificate, etc. Be a giver, not a taker.
Make seeking wise counsel an intentional and regular part of your life.
- Push the envelope to approach individuals at new and higher levels.
- Proactively seek wisdom before you need it.
- Go beyond your current state of neediness and engage others you hold in high esteem—people who have perspectives beyond your current condition.
Wisdom is about context. To have success in any area of life, learn how winning individuals think. If you want to achieve results like theirs, understand the way they think. If your life is reflected in the company you keep and your life is not where you want it to be, look around to see where you go for counsel. For many of you, that will mean letting go of the past and moving forward.
Wise counsel can be gained in person and through information sources, such as books, podcasts, social media, videos, and more. To help you on your journey, I recommend three CRG resources through which you can engage the wisdom from others: Personal Style Indicator, Values Preference Indicator, and Stress and Health Indicator will point you toward your strengths and help you make wise choices.
In the end, you must choose your own path, but it’s easier and more effective to learn from the wise—from those who have been there, done that.
Action Steps: Move Up by Seeking Wise Counsel
- Include seeking wise counsel as part of your life’s strategies for success.
- Seek advice from individuals who have experience and wisdom, not people with justan opinion.
- Readjust your situation regularly to ensure your life is moving in the direction you want.
- Seek counsel from those who have a track record in the specific area you require.
- Avoid assumptions that your paid advisors are wise counsel for areas outside their expertise.
- Remember: Your life, choices, and results will be highly influenced by the company you keep. Are certain individuals around you holding you back? If so, what are you willing to do about it?
- Honor those who provide you with wise counsel. Ask what you can do for them. Be a giver.
- Pay it forward. Think about where can you give back and offer wise counsel to others.
Ken Keis, Ph.D.
CRG Consulting Resource Group International, Inc.
About the Author
Ken Keis, Ph.D., President of CRG, is a global authority on developmental assessments and on how assessment strategies increase and multiply success rates. In 28 years, he has conducted over 3000 presentations and invested 10,000+ hours in consulting and coaching. His latest book, The Quest For Purpose: A Self-Discovery Process To Find It And Live It!, is available at thequestforpurpose.ca.
He is also the author of Why Aren’t You More Like Me? Discover the Secrets to Understanding Yourself and Others, and co-author of Deliberate Leadership: Creating Success Through Personal Style. He co-created CRG’s proprietary development models, and has written more than 3.5 million words of content for 40 business training programs, and over 500 articles. Ken’s expertise includes assisting individuals, families, teams, and organizations realize their full potential and live On Purpose!