Have you ever been led astray by benevolent cluelessness?
It’s a common problem. I’ve fallen prey to it many times over my life.
To avoid benevolent cluelessness you need to understand why it’s so alluring.
If someone has a semblance of “authority” it’s easy to give their advice undue weight.
You don’t think about it much because they’re wearing a robe, they authored a book, or have somehow become semi-famous.
Some authority figures are shameful opportunists.
Most are benevolent and well-intentioned.
The shameful opportunists are fairly easy to spot.
In the long run, they’re not as dangerous as folks who are benevolent, well-intentioned, and completely clueless.
As a lawyer, I’ve spent a lot of time around authority figures.
The well-intentioned benevolent ones are the nicest.
But I realize now how insidiously dangerous they are.
Seek Discomfort Instead
Now I prefer wise folks who can help me gain true insight.
Of course, wise people will make you uncomfortable.
For example, they ask incredibly piercing questions.
Most people don’t like that.
If you can grapple with that shocking question, you’ll probably gain insight.
But alas, most people prefer getting advice from the benevolently clueless.
And that’s why most people struggle to move up the ladder of success.
They’d rather believe in the mythical “simple fix.” The “cure in a bottle.”
“Hey just tell me what to do,” they say to the benevolent guru.
And the guru says “here’s a simple technique that worked for me.”
So you copy the technique.
Then guru pats you on the back and smiles…
And rub that silly dream out of your eyes.
Here’s some caffeinated truth…
Benevolence has little to do with effectiveness.
Or as Frank Chimero once observed…
“It is easier to recognize failures of technique than those of strategy or purpose, and simpler to ask ‘How do I paint this tree?’ than to answer ‘Why does this painting need a tree in it?'”
True, the piercing question will feel like a slap.
But it will bring you to greater clarity more quickly and more effectively.
With greater clarity, you’ll make better decisions.
You’ll move up the ladder of success more quickly and with less frustration.
When you find someone who is truly wise they won’t necessarily ask you a piercing question. they know that most people can’t handle that.
They know most people can’t handle that.
So you have to earn the piercing question.
When get one realize that it’s a precious gift. Make it count.
Don’t waste it.Make it count.
Make it count.
I recently spent two days in a room with some incredibly wise people who asked me piercing questions.
They also recommended great books.
I realize how blessed I am to have had that experience.
And I plan to make it count.