“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” E.B.White
It was a typical morning post (forward) on Whatsapp. It was for those above 40 and the way to live life in your 40’s. It exhorted “spend that money, explore the world, don’t slave and save for your children as you may make them parasites”. You get the drift. Reflecting upon these points, closed the message and looked up another one. “Financial planning mistakes in your 40’s” was the title. Chastising the middle aged crowd for dipping into their retirement nest and not planning a legacy for their children so that they can lead start over their peers…I bet you have read similar ones. Question: both are sound advices, but which advice to follow?
After jokes the one thing that social media is flooded with is advice. 8 successful habits of sportsmen, 10 things not to do and 15 things to eat, how to be a millionaire and the likes. There is no subject that is left uncovered- money, health, relationships, parenting etc. Surprisingly most of the advice is contradictory and ever changing like the life above 40 advice/s cited above. Butter and ghee were a no, no but a yes, yes now. How to know what works and what doesn’t?
In 2008 his company invested billions in quadrupling their stake in an energy major. In a few months his company ended up licking massive losses running into several billions. His company then bought $2billion worth bonds in an energy utility company. Now they are worth $878million and in a few months may be worth zero. The investor is Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway. 5 out of 10 investment advices you receive are inspired by Warren Buffet. If what’s good for Buffet is not good for Berkshire, then what’s it worth for you and me. Don’t copy the lifestyle and portfolio of Buffet but try to imbibe his discipline and hard work in your investments. No surprise that Buffett never advises!
Do advisors change their advice? You bet. The best of these turncoats are on the business channels. One day they are out their giving cocksure projections on companies and the market with buy or sell recommendation. Few days later they are back telling you to do the opposite! What has changed, the circumstances! It is as good as looking out of the window and predicting the weather. If they know so much why don’t they go out and earn those billions instead of giving free advice to you? Think.
English language has complicated the plot even more; we got two words ADVISE and ADVICE. First is a verb and second is a noun. In more practical terms, advice is what you get when you ask for a recommendation. Advise is what you get sometimes without even asking (salesman’s advice). (Any English experts can guide and clarify here).
“Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment” advised Polonius to his son Laertes in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Act 1, Scene 3). Bard is right once again. Like the advisors on business channels who change their views based on circumstances, we also need to get the right context for your inspiration. If some great man wakes up at 5 am don’t ape him and wake up at 5 am (and go back to sleep at 5.05 am!). Check how and why it is beneficial for him when he wakes up at 5 am and also check when he hits the bed in the night. Also, it is dangerous to follow only one habit of a successful person. Follow few more also and importantly check if those habits suit your work and plans.
What drives us towards seeking this free advice and chasing role models is a psychological trait called Survivorship Bias. Story about a man who came from a small place in rural India who made it big in Bollywood without any godfathers is inspirational. What is not shared is the story of thousands of similar men and women who probably with more talent didn’t make it. All or nothing is a great story when we read about the ‘all’ and is not when you read about ‘nothing’.
Good diet, physical activity, reading, honesty and helping others are the good advice which we all received from our parents and teachers which are good enough to lead a happy life. The best advice you can get from the inspirational men and women is their dedication, their struggle, their never give up approach and their hard work. If you adapt those attributes, if not successful, it will definitely make you a better human being.
P.S.: One man said, “I get so much advice on Facebook and Whatsapp, but where is the time to implement as I’am always on Facebook and Whatsapp!”