I was driving home from my finance class last night chatting on my blackberry (yeah, I decided to keep it) with my Momma. She asked me if I feel like the 16 weeks of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University have made a huge difference in peoples lives or if it's just been 'another class'. The answer that came to mind and that I shared with her is the inspiration for this blog entry.
A social worker by degree, I'm abnormally self-aware. My job in a nutshell (or the one I was trained for at least) is to analyze peoples behaviors, habits, and decisions and make behavior modifications that will enable them to better their lives. The blessing and curse of that is that I am constantly analyzing myself as well. Why do I think the way I do? Why do I behave the way I do? How would changing my habits affect my results? In what ways could I better my relations with a person, place, organization, etc. My mind is always swirling with these questions and searching for answers.
With my fancy degree from Purdue I should be more eloquent in explaining this concept but I have found that the inability to be teachable is the biggest hindrance in helping someone help them self. Whether on a professional basis or when I'm trying to guide a friend through a tough time, I have learned to steer clear of people who are unteachable. What do I mean by this? I mean that it is impossible to help someone who thinks they already have all the answers.
People are either going to make excuses for their circumstances or own them. I will admit to having come from a bit of a 'tude of being a know-it-all myself. My Dad use to tell me that no one wanted to help me because I couldn't hear good advice. Yeah, I was that girl. My infinitely wise parents tried countless times to guide me on higher ground but I just wanted to do everything my own way. Opposite of however anyone else told me too.
I thought I was independent. Now I realize I which just arrogant...and more than a little stupid. But you know, that was the past. Since college I have changed my ways and I have been hungry for advice. I use to make lists of questions to ask my Dad about things I read about real estate or budgeting. I beg my Mom to e-mail me recipes or pick me out the best pots and pans. I have realized the value in others experiences and wisdom to keep me from falling on my butt (which I think has been fallen on enough for a while).
I find that you should always give yourself room to fail. Those who never fail, also never achieve greatness. Don't be afraid to try things without knowing the result in advance. BUT if you have things in your life you could be doing better (and we all do!) than seek wise counsel. Save yourself some time, money, resources, embarrassment, and mistakes by listening to advice.
On that note I'd like also to point out what makes 'wise counsel'. We have been discussing wisdom at my church this month and I was so struck by my pastors words. He said that wise people ask for the advice they need while fools ask those who will tell them what they want to hear. Haven't we all done that? Asked our hot-mess-of-a-friend for advice knowing they'll tell us were doing GREAT (because compared to them we might be!). I rarely ask people my own age for advice anymore. My best friends are fabulous and they encourage me daily and talk me through any crisis I may have. But people my parents age tend to have the experience to back their ideas up! Find someone who's doing it better than you and ask THEM how to get to where you want to be.
The important thing about seeking the wisdom of others, is that you go about it with the right attitude. Be teachable. There is much knowledge to be gained from others but it is easy to miss out because of your own pride. Just remember, pride goes before the fall. And if you're tired of falling on your face (or butt), quit tripping over your own pride.