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  • Writer's picturedennisharris04

Advice: A Cage or a Set of Wings?

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

I will start by saying that if anyone takes the time to pass on their hard earned life advice, be thankful. People who care enough and are willing to give time and share a way to possibly make your life’s journey easier should be both appreciated and taken with a little bit of thought. However, in my experience, advice often comes from a place of fear, doubt and limiting beliefs from the person giving it. The doubt may come from a place where the person giving the advice has failed at something or wanted to try at it and never did due to the inability to both trust and believe in themselves. If the advice is coming from a parent, of course it may be coming from a place of obvious care, but still on some level may be driven by my previous point.

You see it a bit from generation to generation where a father may say to his child that you should be saving all your money for a rainy day, but the daughter or son wants to travel a bit before settling down. I don’t think you should dismiss the advice, but you should definitely think about how the advice will really benefit you. Action tempered by good advice can be a very effective tool. Examples like your dad is a house builder and wants to help you with a reno, or your mom runs a company and you may need advice because you're starting one. That is effective knowledge being passed on, just like someone saying don’t do hard drugs or drink and drive. Good advice that should really be embraced by everyone.

I dated a girl years ago whose dad said I should steer clear of owning my own company and get a good city job like he did. No stress and a solid job that will get you through life with paid holidays and hopefully enough to pay bills. There was something in me that made the whole situation feel like I would have been settling on so many levels, instead of following my aspirations and chasing my real dreams. Not only did I not end up marrying his daughter, but years after we split I owned my own company which eventually took me into a six figure salary.

It was a very stressful endeavour, and took a lot out of me, especially getting it up and running. I had no idea how to run a company and learned a lot of things quickly, but some things came with hard and financially scary lessons. I knew that not pursuing that would have left me with regret and life long disappointment of the road not taken. Although I appreciated my girlfriend's dad’s advice, I knew that his journey was not mine. He wasn’t my dad and there was some freedom in not having one of my own. So if he was my dad would I have felt the pressure to take that advice? Maybe, but who’s life is it in the end and do we take some of that advice and still pursue our dreams?

I remember when I decided that competing in a kickboxing ring was something I wanted and everyone warned me off it. They were afraid of me getting hurt, but mostly picturing themselves getting hurt. We have trouble visualizing and making it happen when there is what is perceived as tremendous risk. I had a friend at the time telling me to go for it because losing or perceived failure in the end is better than regret. He is right because failing forward sometimes over and over again is the path to realizing our goals. Enough small goals realized, expands the comfort zone to bigger ones on the way to our dreams. So what do we do with the people who give advice because they don’t want to see your success? What do we do with friends and family who give advice that may be tempered with worry and fear? We take either one and we turn it to productivity by taking a piece of that advice and using it to prepare for life’s challenges. We do that instead of letting it stop us.

When I started my company I prepared and organized as much as I could by asking the advice of the people I knew and trusted in the industry. I went in well prepared and had everything I possibly could have ready to go on day one of my contract. I had my company incorporated with a lawyer and an accountant, I had my crew hired, and I made sure every employee had a good grasp on my expectations, and our objective going forward. I was driven because a lot of people expected me to fail, and some actually hoped I would. I took the fear and doubt of the people who told me not to do it and put that into energy that translated to my relentless drive to succeed.

It was a struggle, but I ran that company successfully for about fifteen years before I decided it was time to do other things. Nobody in my family had ever run a company to the level and success I experienced for myself. I learned a lot about business and carry those lessons in everything I do. I created a fantastic memory instead of a regret of the road not taken.

When I was preparing to step into a kickboxing ring I trained my ass off with people who were like-minded, both amateur and professional fighters. Although that endeavour was short lived for a few reasons, I have great memories of that time. That is the whole point, you should be making memories not regrets. If I had taken the advice that would have kept me from that adventure, the regret from that would have created a slight version of personal purgatory when I stopped to think about it. I will always take the time to listen to advice especially from people whose life experience I respect, but I take the time to see how or if I can positively use it for my personal journey.

Some people seek constant supervision, guidance and approval, but at some point in their lives they really should take a chance on themselves. A person needs to step outside of those three things, reach down inside themselves and really believe they can accomplish what they pursue. It is a little sad to hear people who had all kinds of dreams and never took a chance on even one. The uplifting feeling you get from even what some perceive as a failed attempt of a goal is good for the soul. The next time someone says you shouldn’t do something after you have shared a goal, ask them why. Then really listen to the answer. My girlfriend's dad thought I would marry his daughter, so naturally he wanted stability for her.

He was never open to seeing my full potential, his own fear was driving his limiting beliefs which blinded him to see the drive I had to provide for people in my life. That’s not to say he had ill will, I think we need to receive advice with the intent of who is giving it and why. Some have a lot of knowledge and are happy to share because they have been fortunate to realize some of their own success. There are some people who have a lifetime of bad decisions that take risks that leave them out of their comfort zone consistently, but show no signs of learning from that. One big part of trying and failing is taking as many lessons as you can for the next attempt. There are some people who have actually convinced themselves they have achieved great things with no attempt to take stock and better themselves.

I have worked with people that have done the same thing for twenty plus years and get bent out of shape if anything new changes their precious comfort zone. Those people will probably never feel the exhilaration of true growth by embracing change, chasing dreams and looking forward to the next adventure. If it wasn’t for progression we would still be walking around in loincloths. Could you imagine if the first person that rubbed two sticks together was told by another person not to do it because it was dangerous? What if that person never found fire? What if nobody tried after that incident?

It would be terrible to imagine getting to the end of it all and your Bucket List was full still because you were always following somebody else’s advice. Be the person rubbing the stick together, even if it ends up your hands get a little burned.

Appreciate and thank people for their life ideas, but always take the time to really develop your best path so you can feel complete after the decision. Advice should be a tool and piece of the equation, not a defeating or sinking feeling. Can you think of a time where you wanted to do something and didn’t because of someone else’s advice? Do you regret that decision?

Maybe you have been the person giving yourself the bad advice by not listening to the inner voice saying “try it”?

None of us like to fail and certainly do not want people to see it when we do. Remember, typically people that sit in judgement are the same ones who are afraid to put themselves out there. I would not want their Bucket List in the end. Would you? If you have a Bucket List of items that you envision, have you checked any of them off yet? Start now! I have a list of things other than what I have already mentioned that people told me I was crazy for and would do all of them again.

I took flying lessons when I was running my company and people told me I was too old to be a Pilot, it was too expensive and too dangerous. I always wanted to fly planes in some capacity, so I did. I’m not a Pilot now, but I have touched and experienced a version of one of my dreams. People told me I should be saving for a house instead of expensive flying. After flying I managed to own two places at one point and eventually sold both. Great achievement, I remember flying just as fondly as an accomplishment and more as an experience. I came from parents that never owned their own place on any level, kinda puts the experience in perspective personally. You have to do something for yourself and when taking advice, who really has your best interest at heart? Enjoy your journey.

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