2.4: Listen: How to Receive Advice

“Do not under any circumstances leave for Africa without sufficient funds raised to sustain you for at least three years.” That was the advice given me by a seasoned missionary as I considered taking my young family to Africa. It was good advice.

We saw how good it was when we arrived in Lusaka Zambia and spent some time with a missionary couple who left for Africa before they had sufficient funds. We saw them struggle so were thankful we listened to the advice given us.

You too should seek advisors before launching out on a new adventure. But how do you tell good advice from bad? Where do you get the advice you need? What do you do with the advice once it is given?

When seeking advice, ask the right people.

If you are thinking of buying a house, don’t ask the real estate agent who is showing you homes. If you are having problems with your marriage don’t ask the bartender who has had three wives and is presently in a dysfunctional relationship.

Seek out people with positive experience in your area of inquiry. Seek out people who have your best interests at heart. Seek out people whose lives exhibit wisdom, knowledge and sensitivity especially in your area of interest.

When seeking advice, ask the right questions.

Once you sit down with a wise person to discuss your ideas and dreams, ask this question: “Would you please tell me what you have heard me say?” Your advisor can then repeat back to you what he/she heard you say. You may be surprised to hear the response.

After some discussion, here is another valuable question: “What do you think my next two or three steps should be?” Good advice is specific and moves you forward toward your goals.

Another worthy question to ask an advisor is, “Do you know someone who would be good for me to talk with about my ideas and goals?” A second (or third or fourth) opinion is always advisable.

When seeking advice, ask for truth.

When considering a significant life change it is easy to get caught up in the emotion of the moment. You want to move forward with the exciting future you imagine. Emotion can easily trump wisdom, so as you seek advice, seek what is true, verifiable, and undeniable.

When seeking advice, ask yourself.

All the advice you get ultimately must pass through your mind and heart. This may require some time and space for you to reflect on what you have heard, so thoughtfully consider what you hope to accomplish.

All your advisors may not agree on what is best for you. Some will give you encouragement. Some might think you should not take the risks your dreams and goals may require.

They, however, do not have the final say. You do. You are the one who must decide what happens in your life. After all, you are the one who will take the risks and enjoy rewards or suffer the consequences.

You have more information about what is right for you than anyone else, so listen to your advisors, but also, ask yourself, check your gut, listen to your heart.

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