It’s not true that experience is the best teacher; someone else’s experience is a better teacher. So who do you turn to for advice? After all, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. This seems like a simple concept rooted in common sense.
Who are the right people to take advice from? You want advice from those people who are where you want to be. People who have attained the same goals you are striving for know what the pitfalls are and how to overcome them. Their advice can save you a vast amount of time and effort.
It’s great if you know someone personally, but you don’t have to in order to benefit from their experience. Most successful people write books or articles or have books or article written about them. They give interviews and talks. Some give training seminars.
There are frequent news stories about people who succeed as well as those who fail. These stories provide invaluable examples you can learn from. Always look for the common personality and character traits displayed by successful people. Conversely, what are the elements shared by those who fail?
What about situations where no one has yet achieved what you are trying for? People responsible for breakthroughs and discoveries never start from scratch. They always begin by intensely studying the work of those who have tried before them. They pick up where others have left off. They take something that didn’t work, make adjustments, and try again. Even a “revolutionary” new concept is often no more than 10% different than something already existing.
For example, the people who created the first personal computers did not start by rediscovering electricity. Nor did they reinvent electronics from scratch. They modified and adapted existing products in order to realize their vision.
Great generals always study successful and unsuccessful battle strategies throughout history. Business leaders are well versed in the lessons of their predecessors. Each year, technology advances by modifying and improving successful products.
As soon as Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, others began enhancing it. They used what Edison had already discovered as their starting point. Once the Wright brothers built a working airplane, aviation companies sprung up to improve on the original design.
Learning from those who have gone before you is working intelligently. Although hard work is the foundation of success, it is a waste of time when it takes you in the wrong direction.
Who are the wrong people to take advice from? Those people who are not where you want to be. Just about everyone will offer you their opinion if you ask and many will do so without your invitation.
Although they may be well meaning, their advice is often faulty. If they knew what they were doing, they would have succeeded with their own advice. People listen to wrong advice for a variety of reasons. They think the person knows what they are talking about. They fear being shunned if they reject the advice. They crave approval. The person offering the advice may be overbearing. Regardless of the reason, taking bad advice guarantees undesirable results.
The advice you want comes from those who are already where you want to be. When you share your dreams with others, you attract unsolicited, unproven advice. Just because advice is offered, you are under no obligation to follow it. Don’t argue with someone offering uninvited advice. Thank them and change the subject.
Be selective about the advice you follow. Search out people who have attained the goals you seek. They know a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Learn from their experience and you’ll accelerate your success.
NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at
or write him c/o this paper. 2012 Bryan Golden