The Best and Hardest Things


Some of the most important things my father told me I did not want to hear.

That is the nature of the father/son relationship, especially when a son begins to spread his wings as a teenager and begins to separate from his parents emotionally. Whether a son listens to the experienced advice of his father will likely contribute to his successes, failures and relative ease or difficulty with which he handles both.

The attorney/client, doctor/patient and many other relationships involve a similar dynamic. Any time a more experienced or learned person gives advice to a less experienced or learned person, the success of the person taking that advice depends on whether they follow it. As an attorney, I can attest that my clients do not always follow my advice, even when they have paid for it; but that is another subject.

I do not mean to suggest that a father, lawyer or doctor is always right. On the other hand, if Vegas placed bets on the advice of a father, doctor or lawyer, and if the results could be readily gathered and calculated on the degree of success following that advice compared to not following it, I would be willing to bet the odds favor the success of following that advice.

Human beings do not like being told what to do. Human nature is resistant to the control and influence of others. We like our freedom. We tend to trust ourselves more than others, even when we should not trust ourselves – even when our track record suggests we should not trust ourselves.

A wise person recognizes that other more experienced and learned people have value to offer, even if they are not charging for the advice they give. A wise person seeks to learn from those people, even when what they say is difficult to accept, even when it nicks our pride and means that we must change how we see or do things.

The worst thing that can happen is that the advice we follow does not bear the fruit we hoped. At that point, the advice can be abandoned for something else. Taking the advice and following it is still a good risk.

As Albert Einstein famously said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The important thing is that we learn from our own mistakes. We can also learn from others’ mistakes (which often comes in the form of the advice that we receive from those who have made those mistakes) and learn to avoid those same mistakes in the future by changing our ways.

Sometimes the advice we get is hard to accept, but it can be the best thing for us. It can be a game changer.

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One Comment on “The Best and Hardest Things”


  1. […] The Best and Hardest Things A reflection on getting and taking advice […]

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