I recently wrote an article called Kicking Conventional Wisdom in the Butt. Conventional wisdom is the knowledge that people generally accept to be true.
Sometimes it’s right. Some things stand up to the test of the ages. And sometimes it’s just wrong. It reminds me a bit of the pot roast story.
The Pot Roast Story
A young woman is having friends over for dinner and she’s making her premier dish, pot roast. Her friend watches as she meticulously prepares it for the oven. The first thing she did was to cut off both ends of the roast, then she seasoned it, and in the oven it went.
Perplexed, her friend asks, “Why do you cut off the ends?”
She said, “I’m not sure but my mother is an extraordinary cook and that’s how she does it. I learned how to cook it from her.”
Her friend’s question made her curious about her pot roast preparation. The next day, she texted her mother and asked, “When you make your pot roast, you cut off both ends. Why?”
Her mother’s returned text said, “Well, you know that your grandmother was a brilliant cook and that’s how she does it. I learned how to cook it from her”.
Her mother, now baffled, phoned her mother in the nursing home. “Mom, why did you cut the ends off of the pot roast when you made it? Did that it more tender? Did it allow the spices to meld quicker?
The grandmother laughed, “Well, the roasts were always bigger than the pot that I had back then. I had to cut off the ends to fit it into the pot that I owned”.
5 Ways to Sort the Good from the Bad
Do you have your own pot roast story? How often do you take advice or follow what you think is conventional wisdom without questioning the validity of that advice?
These five questions help you sort out the good advice from the bad advice.
Does the advice seem logical by today’s standards or is it out of date?
There are many old “wives’ tales” that may have been accurate at one time but as society changed, that same conventional wisdom doesn’t hold true.
There are also those things we hear that make our gut throw down red flags. That’s the first sign that something may be amiss and you need to do more research. If something sounds so crazy wrong, ask questions and do your research. Learn to tap into your own intuition to help you determine if advice is right or wrong for you.
Is the person credible with practical knowledge?
Are the people giving you advice getting the results you want to have? If you don’t like what you see in the life of the advice-giver, it’s usually best to ignore the message.
- A financial advisor who is broke.
- A social media consultant who only has a few thousand followers.
- A doctor who is overweight and out-of-shape.
- A recruiting expert who’s only hired a few people
- A leadership expert who has never led people.
Does the expert have relevant expertise in your field?
If you’re asking for career advice, be careful. Bad advice can be detrimental. If you are looking to tackle Silicon Valley for your next career, you might not want to follow the expertise of a hospitality recruiter in Alaska. In no way does that mean they don’t have some good general advice but if you’re looking for specifics, find someone who has keen insight and expertise that matches what you are seeking.
Sadly, experts give advice freely on topics they don't have first-hand insight on so be cautious with something as instrumental as making a life change.
Is the advice always black and white?
No advice is given in a vacuum. For every rule, there is an exception. Be careful of the advice that is black and white and from those people who hand down edicts without explaining the “whys” behind the advice.
Many people give advice simply by repeating adages they've heard from others. Consider advice from those who can explain the reasoning for the advice and not those regurgitating what they’ve been told.
Does the person who is giving advice understand your goals?
If the advice-giver starts spewing advice with little to no context about you, your goals, or your needs, that’s another red flag. Consider advice from those who understand your objectives and values.
The Best Advice Comes With a Plan
If someone says “Follow your passion,” what does that mean to you? How do you get started on the pathway to your success?
We all know we need to do certain things to be successful but the issue is that we don’t always know how to do them. Clichés, platitudes, motivational quotes, and encouraging mantras are great for quick burst of insight and motivation but that doesn’t get you to your desired result.
You get to your end destination by having a concrete action plan with specific steps. When someone can help you with that plan, that may be worth a listen.
Bad advice can leave you frustrated, confused, or headed down the wrong road but with honing your instincts, questioning, and researching, you can overcome this before it’s too late.
Do you have a pot roast story you'd like to share?
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Johnston Osburn is a Career and Life Coach who helps people turn dreams into realities. After years as a Global Talent Acquisition Professional, she realized how frequently people limit themselves because they lack belief in their abilities. They are afraid to dream, let alone dream big. [...]