The best advice is not where you’re looking for it
By Tobias van Schneider Published August 4, 2020
Tons of advice is shared on the internet every day, yet the best advice is not usually found there.
The pervasiveness of self-help literature proves there is a market for advice. People are eager to know how to do things in the smartest and most efficient way possible, with as few regrets as possible. Makes sense. We only have so long to get it right and humans are, by nature, terribly insecure.
Yet we often waste time seeking advice in the wrong places. We read articles and books that only skim the surface or repeat oversimplified truths we already know. We take a stranger’s contextless Tweet to heart. We search for deeper meaning in Instagram captions.
While we can still benefit from that approach (clichés and platitudes are perpetuated for a reason), we gain more when we dig deeper:
1. The best advice is usually kept in small circles and not shared broadly.
Easily accessible advice is likely information you already know. That doesn't mean it's bad advice. But if you're looking for something that changes your perspective or expands your worldview, you'll need to work harder to unlock it.
This type of advice is found within small circles, where trust is established, honesty is assumed and the floor is open. It's here the people with the experience and wisdom you seek feel safe to share it.
2. The best advice is so simple we don't understand its significance yet.
The most spectacular advice is often dressed in plain clothes. At the time, it seems too simple or insignificant to get our attention. It's the things our parents said to us over and over again, yet we only understand it 30 years later.
3. The best advice is so offensive to you, you don't want to believe it.
The best advice is insulting, uncomfortable and often offensive to our existing belief system. This makes us prone to ignore advice that could benefit us, and it also reinforces point #1.
The best advice remains unshared and limited to small circles of trust. The potential consequences of sharing them widely keeps the best advice within smaller circles.
Hi, I'm Tobias, a German designer living in New York. I'm the author of this blog, nice to meet you!