Advice. Everyone gives them. Everyone gets them.

If the world could be powered by advice, we would never be short of energy. Or food.

How do you solve this problem?

You are faced with a difficult problem. How do you deal with this? We often turn to advice at this time because we want someone else's experience and thought process to guide us.

Should I go to graduate school? What should I study over there?

Should I do this diet or that diet?

Should I quit my job and start my own company, or join a startup instead?

Should I scale my company? Should I go for external funding? Or should I stick with slow, organic growth?

The simplest way is to ask someone who's solved this problem. Obviously.


All of us view the world through our lens. Sometimes you know it. Most times you do not.

Every interaction, every problem, every success, every mishap has shaped you over many years. Your lens is a product of that. Your programming is a product of that. You are uniquely you.

Mountain lake in camera lens
Photo by Paul Skorupskas / Unsplash

When someone else gives us advice, it comes from their lens. That's good because you lack that lens. And that's not so good because you have to apply it for yourself, which means you need to do some filtering.

Someone who's solved the problem you are facing has solved it for themselves, with their lens, with their vision of success and growth and what-not.

A poor advisor will tell you what they think you want to hear. They will tell you what they wish they did if they were in your shoes.

A good advisor will attempt to see things your way and guide you from there. But there are so many unsaid parts of you that only you know. And even more unsaid parts of you that you might have not discovered for yourself. It shows up here and there, in gut decisions, in "I don't feel like doing this" and so on.

A great advisor doesn't offer advice, I think. Instead, they make you do the work. Because that is the only way.

Get multiple perspectives

Speak to people you respect and would like to emulate. But not literally emulate but there's something in them that you see as something you'd like to be.

Speak to more than one person. While it is counterproductive to speak to too many people, at least a handful is a good start.

Speak to people with different skews and lenses. If you speak to people with a similar bent, you will get only the same vein of advice.

See how you feel when you hear their advice. Do you feel queasy? Do you feel discomfort? Does it ring true deep inside? Pay careful attention to all of it.

Reinvent the wheel

You shouldn't be doing this.

There are plenty of questions and scenarios which have a clear solution. There, you just listen and apply. You learn from other people's experiences and that's the shortcut.

But the other scenarios where it is about you - well, that's where you have to do the hard work.

Know thyself.

Don't take advice literally. With all these conversations, you sit with it.

And you take the time to figure out what you want to do.

And contextualise all of this advice.

Photo by davisuko / Unsplash

In many cases, your problem is uniquely yours. Because the solution has to work for you, and cannot be generalised. Dropping out of college is generally a bad idea, except when it is not. Quitting a high-paying job in Silicon Valley to move back to India to do something you have minimal experience in is a recipe for disaster, except when it is not.

Don't listen to the specifics. Instead, dig deep and figure out what you are.