For years my father has told me that “Advice is free, just listen. After that you can choose to use, or completely ignore it.” For years I told him, “Whatever dad, you don’t know about this”. This statement may have been true, but without giving him a chance to give me the advice I would never have found out.
So, what drove me to not even want to listen to him? Some may say I was stubborn or disobedient, but I feel that this rejection of his words and experience was derived from something far more dangerous. Pride. Not the kind of pride that I felt when I’d win a race or game, or the pride my parents felt when I would achieve something. This is the kind of foolish pride that keeps normal, free thinking individuals from accepting help and ultimately achieving more in life. I would shut myself off from outside opinions because I thought that I knew best and there was nothing that anyone could tell me that would make me see differently.
My foolish pride lasted until the very last day that I spoke to my ex-girlfriend back in early 2005. We were hanging out in my parents’ basement and we were both really into playing the guitar. I was never very good and her skills were a little less than mine but we had some written music that I was able to decipher. There were two parts to the song, rhythm and lead, and I had already figured out the rhythm section and was about to move on when I decided that maybe this would be a good time to teach her the rhythm, then I could learn the lead over top of what she was playing. She wasn’t having any of it. She demanded that she figure out the rhythm section on her own. So I left it alone.
After a half hour of listening to her unsuccessful attempts I decided that I would insist on helping her as this was making for a boring night. I offered to help her once again, and this time she exploded on me, calling me every name in the book, (this was a volatile relationship and the end was nearing, regardless of this fight) she picked up her guitar and stormed out of the house.
Our relationship ended that night and we haven’t spoken since.
What I learned from that night was that if you are too proud to accept advice, you can waste a lot of time running around in circles. If you are open to someone’s words and experiences, it may set you on a straight path to your goal.
Since then, I have always made sure to listen to people’s advice. Once they are finished I can choose whether to Take it or Leave it.