In 1958 Hunter S. Thompson, replied to his friend, Hume Logan’s request for advice. I highly recommend you read the whole letter which is found in Letters of Note. In the main is about how to find meaning and purpose; the content is thoughtful and profound especially when you consider that Hunter was only 20 years old when he wrote it. Here’s a snippet from the letter:
“You ask advice: ah, what a very human and very dangerous thing to do! For to give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal— to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself.
I am not a fool, but I respect your sincerity in asking my advice. I ask you though, in listening to what I say, to remember that all advice can only be a product of the man who gives it. What is truth to one may be disaster to another. I do not see life through your eyes, nor you through mine. If I were to attempt to give you specific advice, it would be too much like the blind leading the blind.”
In my opinion it’s a powerful reminder that any advice or insight I receive from conversations, reading books, attending a course or listening to podcasts will have come from another’s perspective which may or may not work for me. Experts are often keen to impart their knowledge and learnings while giving us advice on how to do things – how to become a great public speaker, run more effective meetings, sleep better or make better decisions. People giving advice are basing it on their individual experiences and particular skills. They are describing their journey and every journey is different. We tend to lap it up, take it on board without applying any independent or creative thinking, we want quick answers to our problems.
Just because something worked for someone else, in a particular situation with a particular set of people at a particular time, does not guarantee it will work for us. I am not saying we shouldn’t seek to learn from the best but I believe we need to learn to apply independent thinking to find the right path for us. That way, we can live our own version of life.
But remember don’t take my word for it!