Opinions are like assholes; everybody’s got one. (There, I said it). It doesn’t matter who you are and what you do: someone will always have something to say.
This can be useful. Other people teach us most of what we know. The sharing of knowledge is a great and powerful thing.
Unfortunately, most of the advice you get is useless and misguided. Even worse, listening to the wrong person’s opinion can be toxic to you and your undertakings.
So today, let’s talk about 3 types of people you should never listen to.
The Armchair Expert
Some people always have something to say – even if they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.
In high school this one kid told me that doing a BMX ollie involved “squeezing the bike between your legs and jumping”. That’s an armchair expert for you: as soon as he said that, I knew I’d never take anything he had to say about BMX’ing seriously.
But things aren’t always so clear-cut. Good armchair experts are confident, persuasive and – on the surface – reasonable.
I’m talking about the naturally athletic guy who never works out, looks great and swears that the secret to his success is “drinking grape juice bro”.
I’m talking about the small, weak trainers at your gym who keep telling you that bosu balls are the best thing since sliced bread.
After listening to people like these for a while, you’ll start to nod your head and wonder if they might be right. Maybe grape juice IS a miracle fat burner. Maybe jumping around on a bosu ball IS the fastest way to get ripped.
“This’ll really improve up your core stability… Whatever that means”
Not so fast.
Before you believe anything anyone has to say, look for 3 things: knowledge, experience and results.
If a person’s never successfully done something – or at least helped someone else do it – their opinion has no value and can be ignored.
Stop taking relationship advice from the friend who last had sex in 2004. Stop listening to the freak athlete who tells you that ice cream never made anyone fat.
Unless someone’s been where you’ve been and has what you want, take everything they say with a grain of salt.
Most of the time, other people don’t want you to succeed.
I write about this extensively in The Manual of Confidence but here are the main points:
- Even the people in your inner circle can be scared of losing you to success.
- Those who don’t like you want you to fail out of jealousy and competitiveness.
- When you do well, the pressure is on for everyone around to succeed as well.
- Misery loves company – unhappy people want you to be unhappy too.
I’m not saying the world is full of hostile people who want you to screw up out of malice. But even a loving parent can hold their child back from moving out and becoming independent for fear of losing them. It’s human nature.
So when someone gives you advice, don’t automatically assume it’s good-natured. Unless it’s positive and constructive, chances are that the person giving it is a hater.
(Not in the sense that they hate you but in the sense that they’d hate to see you succeed – for whatever reason).
Buying into what haters have to say will make you doubt yourself and screw with your self-esteem. So while it’s always good to get a second opinion, be very careful about taking advice – other people usually want you to fail.
The Emotional Adviser
The last kind of person you should always ignore is the emotional adviser: the person who gives advice based on emotion and personal experience instead of logic.
One example is the heartbroken friend telling you that all girls are cheaters/jerks. Another example is when a guy who’s always struggled to lose weight says that “some people are just meant to be fat”.
If you want to do something out of the ordinary with your life, expect to get a lot of emotional advice. I know I did when I quit my job to be a full-time life coach. A lot of it was from my then-girlfriend. The idea of life coaching for a living was so unusual to her that she didn’t see how I’d make it work. Although I already had a bunch of satisfied clients and more lined up, she kept nudging me to give up.
And I can only imagine what someone like Leah heard when she decided to quit her job without another one to go to in a bad economy.
Look – at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how anyone else feels. You’re you and if you feel good about a decision, that’s the only thing that matters. So learn to ignore emotional advice and always do what you feel is right.
The armchair expert, the hater and the emotional adviser: 3 types of people whose opinion you should always ignore.
The funny thing is, these people often genuinely want to help you with their advice. But since they lack experience, good intentions and objectivity – in that order – nothing they say can really help you.
So learn to separate good advice from bad and always trust your heart. Much success to you in 2013!