“Experience is the best teacher, but a fool will learn from no other.” Benjamin Franklin
I’m rather a nut for pithy quotes and I’m a lawyer and a mother, so when I ran across a little magnet that said: “Go ahead, take my advice – I’m not using it anyway,” it spoke to me in three ways. First, unless you ever worked as an attorney for a corporation, I’m not sure you’ll appreciate this completely, but business people almost never want to conform to whatever the lawyer is telling them to do or not to do. Second, as a mother of three daughters, a lot of perfectly good advice went into and out of three sets of ears. Finally, if I’m being perfectly candid, I’m better at preaching than practicing myself. I acquired that little magnet and put it on my credenza book shelf, but apparently it did not speak to any of the people for whom it was intended, myself included.
When there were news papers that people held in their hands and read everyday, there were advice columns. Two of the most famous were Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren (“Dear Abby”). They were identical twin sisters and their advice was spot on. Their columns revealed such good judgment and sound advice over the years that I have to believe they gained it from being raised by the same mother. Alas, it only takes a quick Google search to learn that the once close sisters became estranged from one another and that Ann Landers was divorced after 36 years of marriage, so maybe they didn’t always take their own advice either.
This year is one of those milestone birthday years for me. I’m going to be 60 in August. Six decades of getting advice I didn’t use. Going on four decades of handing out advice that other people didn’t use. When I think of all the good advice I’ve squandered over the years, it makes me a little nauseous. Will Rogers said: “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.” Guilty. Is everyone doomed or just me?
I see and know people who look like they have it all together, so I have to believe that some people are capable of taking advice and learning from others’ experiences. As I edge into this final quarter, it makes me want to pass along the sage advice I squandered over the years and reveal the lessons I learned the hard way just in case someone is listening. Hope springs eternal as they say.