My smartest friends don’t make a big production about the smart things they say.
Sometimes, you’ll see politicians deliver a line they’re excited about and then they’ll pause, waiting for the audience to clap. When it works, it can be a really powerful moment. When it doesn’t, you look silly, like a cat who is confused that no one else is thrilled about the dead mouse dropped on the doorstep as a gift. (If there are any cats reading this, I would love for you to kill the mice in the woods behind our house. I personally will clap.)
In real life though, without teleprompters and speech writers, there’s very little fanfare when a friend says something smart. You often don’t even know at the time that it’s going to be a sentence you think about for years. It’s funny what ideas we end up carrying around with us like souvenirs from conversations in the past.
I wasn’t planning to think about the sentence I’m about to share for as long as I have. When my friend said it, he said it in passing, with the intensity one might use to deliver information about the weather or a favorite football team. He just said it and yet, I can’t stop thinking about it. Here’s what he said:
“People don’t want advice, they want confirmation.”
That hit me so hard because it’s often true in my own life. It’s easier for me to find someone who I know believes the same thing I believe and will tell me what I want to hear. It’s easier to spin my story in a way that convinces a friend that I’m making the right decision. It’s easier to dismiss anything that doesn’t line up with what I already know I’m going to do.
The funny thing is that I can still look very teachable throughout this whole process. I’ll ask all the right questions. I’ll nod my head along to the things you’re saying. I’ll even take note. What a student of life I am! And then I’ll go ahead and do what I was going to do all along anyway.
What I’m learning though is that life is a lot better when you seek advice and not just confirmation. Life is a lot more fun when you let wise counsel actually speak into what you’re doing. Life is a lot more fulfilling when you expand your education beyond your limited experience and listen to others.
It’s not easy. Sometimes, the advice I receive is true but difficult. Sometimes it slows down a plan I was speeding ahead on. Sometimes it requires patience and discipline, two words that don’t come naturally to me. Sometimes I have to put my ego aside.
But, it’s worth it in the long run.
Seek advice, not just confirmation.
P.S. When people ask me how I plan my weeks, months and years, this is always what I share with them.