In Defense of Wise Counsel

Why work harder when you can work wiser?

Hustle culture says success isn’t good enough if you didn’t achieve it alone, without any external help. We celebrate "self-made" people and encourage “moving in silence” and “getting it out of the mud,” which leads to hustling in isolation and disconnecting from others to say we did it on our own. This pattern can lead to burnout, poor output, and avoidable mistakes.

Seeking wise counsel and implementing helpful advice can get you where you want to be faster and with less energy than figuring it out yourself. Cultures worldwide have developed sayings and idioms around cooperating with others and seeking their wisdom to enhance your own.

Asking for advice doesn’t mean you’re incapable or lack the ability to figure it out on your own. Seeking advice from wise and experienced people demonstrates vulnerability, bravery, a desire to grow, and self-awareness of your limited knowledge.

How do you know who to ask for advice? Here are a few things to consider:

  1. What knowledge, either experiential or theoretical, do they have to offer on the problem you need to solve?
  2. Is this person trustworthy? Are they genuinely interested in your well-being, success, and personal growth?
  3. Do they have a different background, way of thinking, or perspective?

With those questions, you can sift through the available options for advice.

Direct Counsel

Direct counsel comes from people you know, who know you, and who you trust to support you. However, there is a risk of an echo chamber if they think like you or have a bias. This is best for intimate matters unique to you or matters you know someone with deep expertise in.

  • Having trouble with your budget? Email your financial advisor.
  • Unsure which butter to use for the family pound cake recipe? Call your favorite baking elder.
  • Confused about work feedback? Talk to your manager.
  • Struggling with what pictures to post, their order, or the caption? Text the group chat.
  • Stressed about investing in your first piece of artwork? Reach out to that art advisor you met for coffee.

Indirect Counsel

Indirect counsel comes from sources who don’t know you but have valuable knowledge. It's not tailored to your specific circumstance and may have misinformation or ulterior motives. These sources vary in verification and require self-awareness and media literacy to sift through. This is best for more general matters that are well studied, documented, and accessible and for preliminary research.

  • Don’t know what to do with the lentils in your cabinet? Check Pinterest.
  • Wondering how to host a good gathering? Check out a book from your library.
  • Need tips for training your new dog? Watch YouTube videos.
  • Unfamiliar with the candidates on your ballot? Research their campaigns.
  • Want to start running but don’t know where to start? Swipe through Runner TikTok.

When to go for what you know

There are times when you have to seek your internal wisdom. When you can’t rely on other sources, you’ve got to trustyour gut and rely on self-trust and confidence in your expertise.

Doing things independently is not bad. What's bad is wasting non-renewable resources like time.

Use discernment to identify who can help you. Be creative and let your community and resources surprise you with insight that can improve your circumstances.

Take what works, leave what doesn’t, and charge forward to achieve your goals!