There are some smart people who think they know everything and they are not even looking for any advice. We are not talking about them. Then there are a vast majority of smart people who are open to good advice but they don’t do anything with it.
You may know someone who fits the bill or you may fit the bill, I don’t know but that question had been bothering me for a while so I went in search for an answer. Here are my findings:
There are many reasons for not doing anything with good advice. The common ones were:
1. Their ego came in the way:
If the good advice was in line with what they were already thinking, it worked great. If it was not in line with what they were thinking, that’s when their ego came in between and they had to make a choice between their thinking and the borrowed thinking. Finally their thinking won.
2. They didn’t have time to process advice completely:
These people had many things going on all at once. They had calculated the pros and cons of their approach in great detail. Now the new advice needed to be processed in detail to evaluate the pros and cons. They planned to do that before making a final decision but they ran out of time in the middle of their dozens of projects.
3. They were listening selectively:
Some of these people were masters of selective listening. Ask them what advice they received and they will give their own version of what they heard completely turned around in a way that’s convenient to them. With that, they actually implemented the advice – only it was their own version of the advice.
4. They were forced to take advice:
Some were forced to get advice so they were never interested in listening to any advice however good it was – in their mind they never needed the advice. The fact that they came to get the advice was a big favor to the person that forced them to get the advice.
5. They want to prove it on their own:
They strongly believe in their approach and they want to prove it to themselves and the others that it WORKS! Taking a different approach means that they are giving that opportunity to prove something.
6. It got too personal:
Their projects and their approach are very personal to some of these people – so personal that they unconsciously oppose any alternate approach to their approach.
The emperor of all reasons was surprisingly the following:
7. The act of asking advice was an insurance policy:
The reason they were seeking the advice of others was as an insurance policy to reduce the impact of the fall in case they fail in their initiative. It didn’t matter much what the advice was and all they were looking for was to increase the cushion for the fail in case of a failure. If they had asked for advice, they now can include the list of people who advised to take some “responsibility” for the outcome if it didn’t go the way it was planned. If everything succeeded, they would be in the limelight and it will be their choice to decide how much credit to give to others.
If you (or someone you know) is getting advice from someone, make sure that there is “real openness” to receive that advice. It will not only help you but it’s also being respectful to the person that is giving the advice.
All the best.