Today’s post originally appeared on Patrice C. Washington’s Real Money Answers blog.
Your success, in any area of life, is strongly determined by the people you surround yourself with. Not only do you require the support and encouragement of others to make meaningful progress, you will often find yourself leaning on them for advice as well. But, as much as you may love and appreciate others, you simply can’t take financial advice from everyone!
Don’t take advice from someone who is not where you want to be or has never been where you are going.
- You can’t take advice on how to start a business from someone who’s been on a 9 to 5 job for 30 years.
- You can’t take advice on how to negotiate the purchase of a car from someone who depends on public transportation daily.
- You can’t take advice on how to buy a home from a serial renter.
- Can each of these people support and encourage you? Yes! . . . . Advise you? No.
- No matter how much they think they know about something, we usually learn our best lessons through experience. Apart of being successful is seeking wise counsel—not listening to any and every one with an opinion.
He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20
No matter how old you are or what you’ve accomplished, everyone needs wise counsel; either someone who has the success you desire or who has been there, done that and will be transparent enough to tell you what mistakes to avoid. Surround yourself with a team of the best consultants, coaches and confidants you can find. Create your own Mastermind Group, a special group of people with different talents and backgrounds that will help you brainstorm on ideas and provide suggestions on how you can reach your goals. These people are your support system, sounding board and even devil’s advocates when necessary. They help you stay clear of the costly mistakes you would more than likely make if left up to your own “bright ideas” and inexperienced advisors.
Here are a few tips to use
Start with people you know. Think of people you already know across different backgrounds and industries. Make sure the basics—a lawyer, an accountant, a computer whiz, an artist or designer, etc.—are included, but also think outside the box and make the list unique to your industry. If your goal is to be a chef, surround yourself with a nutritionist or a restaurateur so that you can bounce new dishes off of them or even a publisher who can give you behind the scenes insight on what it takes to produce your own cookbook. (Side Note: As you begin to do this you will begin to attract all types of brilliant people into your life. Never dismiss anyone because you’re not positive at first about whether they will be a good fit. Schedule a one-one with them to see how you can best support one another and go from there.)
Be open to feedback. When people you consider to be wise give you advice, take it. You can’t enlist the best people you know to help further your vision and then be unwilling to hear what they have to say. If you start this project out with people whom you know have your best interest at heart, there’s no need to get all riled up if they don’t think your idea will work as presented. Be quiet, listen openly and be ready to tweak your idea until you get it right. Remember, the point of this is to save you time and money!
Be ready to pay. Many of the people in your Mastermind Group will be professionals who ordinarily get paid for their time. Once you’ve built good relationships where you help bless them with information based on your skill set, opportunities for free advice may appear effortlessly. Don’t push it though. Be willing to invest in yourself and your vision. Personally, I love to barter. I coach several women who are skilled in one area and in turn they perform services or give advice relating to topics that I would ordinarily pay for. Remember to not take advantage of people. Respect their time and expertise and at least offer to take them to lunch or dinner while you “pick their brain.”
Start out where you are. The people in your Mastermind Group don’t have to have a million degrees or even earn a million dollars yet to give you good, sound advice. At the end of the day, you want someone who is credible. If you’ve got a cousin who lost 150 lbs. on Weight Watchers last year, I’d say asking her opinion on weight loss might be worth a shot!
Some further thoughts to consider:
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given and who gave it to you?
Have you ever taken advice from someone who wasn’t qualified to give it? What happened?