The best advice is the gift of hindsight

Derek Ouellette —  December 17, 2012

The other day Seth Godin wrote a short article titled “Most advise is bad advice.” Since the article was so short I’ll publish it in it’s entirety and then offer my own fuller reflections.

People mean well, especially friends and family, but they’re going to give you bad advice.

This leads to two challenges as you strive to create original work that matters:

1. Ignore their advice, even the well-meant entreaties that you stick with the status quo


2. Try to discern the actually useful good advice, so you don’t insulate yourself in the bubble of the self-deluded. In general, this good advice pushes you to go faster, or to do things that make you uncomfortable.

PS the irony of this post is not lost on me. (Here)

Being the youngest of three children I grew up with the distinct advantage of hindsight. I’ve been able to watch my brother and sister stumble, make mistakes and do stupid things and I’ve also been able to watch them make solid choices and wise decisions. It’s not often that they ever gave me advice, well not of the verbal sense. But their lives where advice to me, as my life is advice to those coming up behind me. One of the best early decisions I made in life was to watch their faults and avoid them, and to watch their strengths and repeat them.

Of course I’ve blazed my own trail in the process filled with faults and successes all my own, and this gives those coming up behind me the same advantage.

My point is that advice is more then verbal. Advice is being offered constantly and unsolicitedly by everyone around us by the choices they make every day. We merely have to be observant and aware enough to receive their advice, good or bad, for our betterment. If their advice is bad, we receive it as what not to do. If it’s good we receive it as what we ought to try to repeat.

I have the policy of accepting people’s advice always. But I don’t always accept the advice they want me to accept.

When someone offers me verbal advice I weigh it heavily against them (their personalities, their choices leading up to their experiences, their knowledge, whether their advice is purely anecdotal or purely empirical and so on), against others and against my own backdrop.

This is why the best advice is the gift of hindsight. Hindsight allows you to see more than the words of advice offered at any given moment.

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.