One of my favorite sayings actually isn’t appropriate to print here, so I’ll approximate: Opinions are like [unpleasant but necessary body part]; everybody’s got one. Advice is similar — everybody’s got some. Unfortunately, though, a lot of people who want to give advice have bad advice to offer. Here’s how to tell the difference between the good and the bad.
Today’s question is from Ella L., who asks, “Ever since I’ve decided I’m going to go into copywriting, I’ve been inundated with advice and opinions. And a lot of it is conflicting! All of it is well-meaning, but how do I know who to listen to?”
I have no idea why, but humans seem to be hardwired to give advice. If you’re going through something, people want to tell you exactly what you should do. But just because everyone is offering advice, doesn’t mean that all of it (or any of it!) is any good.
So, let’s start out by talking about the worst places to get advice, and then end on the best places.
A few years ago, I was sitting with a group of friends and one of them was talking about how confused she was by how the guy she was seeing was very slow about texting her back. We all had a few things to say about it, but no one was louder than her perpetually single roommate.
Her roommate was saying things like, “You deserve better! You need to kick that guy to the curb!” And maybe this guy wasn’t the right one for her, but as someone who is very much in love with a man who is wonderful in many ways but also happens to be terrible at returning texts, “kicking him to the curb” probably shouldn’t be your first reaction.
My point is this: If you’re looking for relationship advice, don’t look to your single friends or your friends in bad relationships/marriages. If they were right and had valid advice, they wouldn’t be single or be in bad relationships!
The same thing goes for career advice (and, really, advice in any arena): If you’re looking for advice, don’t seek it or take it from people who haven’t succeeded in their careers. If their advice worked, they’d be successful. But they’re not.
So where do you go to find good advice? Just turn the scenario around:
Get your advice only from people who are successful in the area in which you want advice.
And ONLY get it from them.
If you want to get into or maintain a successful relationship, ask for advice and talk things through with your friends who are in good, stable, loving, and supportive relationships. They know what to do to get there because they did it.
And if you want to get advice about becoming a copywriter? Get it from people who have forged lasting, successful copywriting careers.
Plenty of people are going to try to give you advice about copywriting. But unless they’ve built their own successful copywriting careers, what do they know??
Now, knowing this little trick isn’t going to stop everyone who isn’t an expert from giving you advice. It’s likely that nothing can do that. But knowing this can stop you from being swayed by advice from people who aren’t successful in the area in which you want advice.
If you wanted advice about how to perform heart surgery, you’d get it from a working, successful heart surgeon — not from your Uncle Phil.
And I don’t take my own position as an advice-giver lightly, either. I’ve created this website and our Academy because I can share with you how to succeed in copywriting. Why? Because I’ve done it. And I’ve done it consistently for 15+ years.
Seeking advice is a very smart tactic. Great advice can help you avoid pitfalls and take action in ways wouldn’t otherwise know how to. But don’t let yourself be swayed by advice from just anyone, no matter who they are. Get advice only from people who are successful at the things you want to master.
Your turn! What good (or bad) pieces of advice have you received, and from whom? Let us know in the comments below!