How to Tell When You’re Getting Pretty Good Advice

It’s a daunting quest we’re all in the midst of — the pursuit of wisdom, the journey to self-improvement. A trusted mentor once told me, “Your life is shaped by the advice you heed.” Sounds like pretty good advice, doesn’t it? But how do you tell the good from the bad, especially when no advice is perfect? Let’s explore how to recognize “pretty good advice.”

It’s Not About The Messenger, But The Message

It’s easy to be star-struck, to take advice from people because of their fame or success. But remember, good advice can come from anywhere. It’s not the status of the messenger that matters but the wisdom and truth embedded in their message. Marcus Aurelius, in his private notes compiled into “Meditations,” stated that “If anyone can refute me – show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective – I’ll gladly change. It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance.” Look beyond the source and focus on the integrity of the message.

Validity Is Not Defined By Complexity

Similar to James Clear’s principles, simplicity and accessibility often characterize valuable advice. If advice is complex, it becomes more challenging to apply. And as Clear advocates in “Atomic Habits,” small improvements accumulated over time lead to significant changes. We seek advice that is manageable, practical, and applicable, signifying that we’re receiving pretty good advice.

Pretty Good Advice Stands The Test of Time

Timeless wisdom is often the best. Human behavior, principles of success, and rules of nature haven’t changed significantly over millennia. Consider this: the teachings of ancient philosophers like Epictetus or Seneca are as relevant today as they were during the Roman Empire. So, if the advice you’re hearing echoes truths that have stood the test of time, it’s likely you’re getting pretty good advice.

It Encourages Self-Reflection

Good advice often prompts introspection. It doesn’t just give you the answers but nudges you to question, to explore, and ultimately, to grow. Echoing Ryan Holiday’s “The Obstacle Is the Way,” adversity isn’t something to be evaded but rather embraced as an opportunity for personal growth. If advice leads you towards a deeper understanding of yourself and your situation, it’s probably pretty good advice.

Adaptability: One Size Does Not Fit All

Finally, remember that not all good advice is good for everyone. Context matters. As Clear often underscores, systems work better than goals, and the system that works for one may not work for another. Good advice should be adaptable and flexible, tailor-fit to your unique circumstances. If the advice you receive considers this, it’s likely pretty good advice.

Conclusion: The Quest For Pretty Good Advice

Navigating life’s labyrinth, we seek guidance, wisdom, and yes — pretty good advice. So, the next time you receive advice, pause. Examine its source, simplicity, timelessness, the self-reflection it incites, and its adaptability.

In the words of both Holiday and Clear, the quest for self-improvement is a marathon, not a sprint. And on this journey, the right advice can be a powerful ally. So, equip yourself with the ability to distinguish the noise from the sound — to recognize when you’re getting pretty good advice.

The pursuit of wisdom is a pursuit worth undertaking.

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