The Value of Having Many Advisers
By: Robert J. Tamasy
Some time ago I received a phone call from a friend who told me about a new business venture he was planning. He asked if I, being a writer, could come up with a catchy, marketable title for the enterprise. My friends know me as the guy who is never at a loss for words.
Before starting to think of clever names for the business start-up, I asked my friend if he had done his due diligence in researching the pros and cons of this particular type of company. He said he had already done that, and was eager to get underway. I had no background in that type of business, but two of my friends had engaged in ventures like that in the past. So I urged my friend to contact them and ask for their feedback. My desire was not to discourage him or change his mind, but to ensure he had examined all aspects of the proposed business to avoid problems in the future.
Years ago I learned an important principle of decision-making. We tend to make decisions based on emotion, then justify those decisions with facts – facts to support the course of action we want to take. Sometimes this works, but other times an emotions-first, facts-second approach can lead to disaster. Feelings can and frequently do cloud sound judgment.
So how do we avoid this potential pitfall? By seeking advice and wise counsel from people we trust – even those who are not certain to agree with and support whatever we wish to do.
The book of Proverbs has much to say on this topic. For instance, it states, “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure” (Proverbs 11:14). A similar passage tells us, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). Here are other principles from Proverbs that relate to decision-making and seeking advice from others:
Be wary of trusting our own judgment alone. Decisions – especially hasty ones – can be very easily justified and excused. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and if I do not act now, I will miss out!” we reason. Or we tell ourselves, “They (those who disagree with us) simply do not understand.” But Proverbs 28:26 warns, “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.”
Seeking advice from others can reveal faulty thinking. Are we making decisions based on emotions, or without considering all the factors involved? Wise advisers can offer assurance – or reveal flaws in our reasoning. “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice”(Proverbs 12:15).
Humbling ourselves to listen to advice is itself an act of wisdom. Turning to others for their counsel can seem humbling, especially when we already believe we are right. But if our goal is to make the right decisions, the humility to consult with others is an asset. “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise” (Proverbs 19:20). “Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words o f knowledge” (Proverbs 19:27).
It is said that “Hindsight is 20:20.” In seeking wise counsel – especially when pondering difficult, complex decisions – others can offer their own hard-earned “20:20 hindsight” without our having to gain it through the pain of foolishness and failure.
Until next week!
Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit corporation based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. A veteran of more than 35 years in professional journalism, he is the author of Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace (River City Press) and has coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring: 10 Proven Principles for Developing People to Their Fullest Potential (NavPress). For more information, see www.leaderslegacy.com or www.rivercitypress.net.
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