Last night at work, I thought I had the opportunity to mentor a 23-year-old girl by giving her good advice on the career direction she should take. She has one daughter and lives with her father. She wants to better herself so that she won't spend her life working, working, working.
Boy, do I know that feeling!
She seemed very appreciative of my advice. I'm only 35, but the age difference is quite significant so that I was seen as an older, wiser person who is trying to steer her in the right direction.
Shortly after our conversation, she started talking to a girl who was perhaps around her age. This time, she was given some bad advice by this other girl. The other girl was telling her how to cheat the government, stating, "You think you're the only one cheating the system? Lots of people who make more money than we do are cheating the system."
To which the 23-year-old replied, "But, I'm not much of a liar."
The other girl replied, "It's not lying! It's called 'doing what it takes!' '' That is, doing what it takes to get ahead in life.
I was watching the 23-year-old listening and pondering the advice of this other girl while I was doing my work. After talking for a few minutes, the 23-year-old told the other girl, "You should be my mentor!"
Nevermind what the older, wiser, more mature person advised. Go ahead and listen to someone younger, immature, and who doesn't have her head on straight.
You know, this incident showed me that everybody is getting mentored by somebody, whether formally or informally. Someone is mentoring you right now and you probably don't know it. Who is this mentor and is this mentor steering you in the right direction?
Many of our mentors are the friends we hang around. Sadly, sometimes our best friends could give us the worst advise, while strangers could give us good advice. The thing is that we trust our friends more than we trust strangers, and we will end up getting burned in the end.
This poor, 23-year-old girl subjected herself to the advice of her friend, who was giving her bad advice. She may probably forget the advice that I've given her. The advice her friend gave would cause future stress, while the advice I gave would give her peace.
For instance, she applied for a job at Wal-Mart and has an interview. However, she has no car at the time and no babysitter for her daughter. And if she gets the job, she would have to worry about how to get to the job, plus have to worry about working two jobs. This would definitely interfere with her goal for higher education.
My advice? Set your sights higher than on Wal-Mart and apply for jobs that you don't think you could get as you may be surprised at what you may get. Since she's living with her father, I told her don't rush to leave home, especially since he's not trying to kick her out. Focus on her future education. Pretty much, do things the right way and don't rush it. She already has a job, and doesn't need the stress of juggling two. If she gets a higher paying job, then she needs to leave this job so she could focus better on her education rather than working, working, working.
Her friend's advice? Do whatever she can to get to that Wal-Mart interview and cheat the government to get daycare for her daughter. The 23-year-old seemed to have pondered her advice more than my advice!
But you know, we ALL ponder someone else's bad advice more than someone else's good advice. If someone giving us bad advice is our friend, we would consider it more than a stranger who is wiser and more experienced in life than we are. Sometimes (and this is the scary part), we don't realize that our friends are giving us bad advice until it is too late.
Think about a married couple having problems. The woman's friends tell her to divorce her husband and start over so that she could be happy. However, the preacher's wife of the church where this woman goes to gives her different, wiser, and more practical advice so she could save her marriage. The woman listens to her friends and files for divorce. Then later on, she regrets it, but it's too late: her man has moved on to another woman.
Think about the same married couple, but let's switch it up. The husband wants to hang with his friends just a bit too much, and often neglects the wife. The wife is giving him grief about it. He tells his friends that his wife wants him to hang out less with his "boys." Well, his "boys" told him to ignore the wife and do whatever he wants. His preacher, however, gave him wiser and more practical advice to improve his marriage. The man listens to his friends. Now the wife is filing for divorce.
While you may love your friends, this doesn't mean they always give the best advice. Heck, they probably NEVER give good advice, and their bad advice would cause you to burn later on.
This reminds me of a story in the Bible. King Solomon's son Rehoboam took the throne after his father died. One day, the people of Israel came to him asking to reduce the taxes his father placed on them as it was causing financial hardship. Rehoboam asked for advice from older, wiser men who told him to reduce the taxes so as to give financial relief to the citizens. Then Rehoboam went to his "boys," the young guys he grew up with. They gave him bad advice and told him to make life harder for the citizens -- and Rehoboam listened.
So many of us are just like Rehoboam. We go with the advice of people who aren't qualified to give it. When these people give advice, they give it knowing that THEY won't have to pay for any consequences for following the advice.
So, how would we know if we're getting bad advice? Here's a few things to look for:
Whenever you're asking for advice, ALWAYS get second and third opinions. NEVER go with the advice of just ONE person, because that one person may steer you in the wrong direction.
Personally, I believe that in general, good advice is practical, promotes peace of mind, and is beneficial to you and to other people. Good advice should NEVER encourage selfish gains, it should NEVER promote stress (at least not unnecessary stress), and it should NEVER be complicated to follow.
You could love your friends. You don't always have to appreciate their advice. I believe I'm rather wise, but my advice may not always be right for you. Actually, if someone asks for advice that I don't feel comfortable giving, I would try to steer them in a direction where they could find good advice.
All information in this blog are for inspirational purposes only. Unless otherwise stated, all content is written and copyrighted by Aiyo A. Jones.