“Don’t believe a word I say”

That’s what he said.

This was not the response I was was expecting.

The question was pretty straightforward.

I had asked a question something along the lines of…. “If you had only one piece of advice to give someone, what would it be?”

I saw this man as a highly intelligent. Really brilliant and very successful in many ways. The kind of person who where you find yourself nodding in agreement every time they give their views on a subject.

What was he trying to tell me?

He saw the confused look on my face and then started to explain.

He: “Do you agree with my views?”
I: “Yes”
He: “Do you think I’m right on every view? All of the time?”
I: “Well no. That can’t be true. No one is perfect”
He: “Good! Then how will you know when I’m wrong?”
I: “Ah. I think I understand”

He continued.

“Think for yourself. Perhaps that’s how might explain it differently. The advice I would give is to ask people to think for themselves. Listen intently to the views of others. Understand all aspects of the issues. Do your research. Sure, pay particular attention to those who have solid principles, a good heart and a sound mind. But be careful not to automatically take someone’s view as true and correct. This is especially true about a really important decision that will have a material impact on your life. Keeping this discipline will tend to keep your mind open and strengthen your cognitive ability.”

This advice was given to me many years ago.

Every now and again, I still think of this experience.

It has helped me on many occasions make good decisions. In particular it helped me avoid poor decisions and choices. A few times when I looked back on views that I had to change or bad decisions that I made, I found that I had quickly assumed something was true based on what I was told from someone I thought was an expert.

This was great advice.

But don’t believe a word I say.

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