Like all of us, I read up on advice from experts. I watch videos, read blog posts and books, listen to podcasts and find out how those more successful than me came to be so,
However there also a potential pitfall form seeking the advice of others and it comes down to our own limitations, both as storytellers and listeners.
An expert will explain their own success and reel off a list of things that they did. But it’s here that we fall for the illusion they unwittingly present.
When we explain to each other how we succeed we only give out information that is based upon our own agency. That is we say ‘I did this’, ‘I didn’t do that’ and more. It places a hidden emphasis on the advice on the choices and decisions we make.
What’s wrong is that it fails to acknowledge that success is not just down to the choices we make. There are other factors in play which we notice let alone accept. Things like upbringing, education, socioeconomic status, culture and more. They all play a play a role.
Expert advice is only half right. Another example is the oft-quoted adage of ‘it’s not what we know it who we know’. It makes sense but how often do we hear this from an expert giving advice.
Advice from experts or those who with more experience can then be misleading, giving a false impression of how success takes place.
The stories experts tell fall foul of ‘availability bias’. Which is we can only make choices based on the knowledge we can remember or have access to. But this information may not encompass all that exists.
The expert only remembers certain remarkable moments in their success story. They only spoke of what they thought was important, we the can remember. Either of which can be wrong.
Then there’s luck. There are forces that we don’t have control over. They may or may not act in our favour. Being in the right place at the right time can be just as much a reason for success as making a choice.
Also, those chance encounters with random strangers that set us on the path towards success.
Having said all this it’s not to say such advice is worthless, it’s just that we have to be cautious when applying their advice to our situation.
‘Your mileage may vary’ should be a caveat we all remember when seeking help.
His choices may not have had any effect on the outcome even though that’s what he says. Failure to accept randomness, status, education etc doesn’t mean they didn’t play a role.
Serendipity, your past, culture, economics, your own subconscious behaviours, where you live are all part of any success story. It’s just that we don’t tend to notice them. Most importantly we should not let such things stop us from trying.
This all brings me to an message for you. I can only offer you my story, my path to success.
My own success story may only be partly applicable to you. Take what lessons you can from it.