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Monday, December 24, 2012

The Best Piece of Advice...

“The quality of any advice anybody has to offer has to be judged
against the quality of life they actually lead.”
~Douglas Adams

Over the past few weeks, I have been consumed with my son’s prep school applications/interviews and their imminent due dates. Although there are some similarities, each potential school has different requirements, questionnaires and essays that need to be submitted. I began to look at one of the applications – as I set aside my son’s portion of the work- and one of the essay questions had me thinking… The question was:

What is the most valuable piece of advice you have been given? How has that advice changed the way you see yourself, others, and the world?”

I thought; what a great question … It will be interesting to read and observe what has impacted him (as far as information he has received and applied to his thought process). It would be great for me to see not only what has stuck in his young mind and has governed his behavior, but mainly how he translates it through his young life. And then I started wondering what the best advice I ever received was… Well, I have a few years on him and many pieces of advice to sort through but I think the one that has been the most helpful in my life and never failed me is:

Before entering into any battle, be confident that you will want and accept ALL of the consequences of winning.”

And I modified it a bit to, “…accept all of the consequences of winning or of losing.”
This advice slowed me down a little bit; it helps me think things through, weight the pro’s and con’s… and also highlights the worthiness of how I need to spend my time and energy. Even though no one wins EVERY battle they engage themselves in, no one enters one knowing they are going to lose the fight! This advice helps me to pick and choose my battles carefully. Do I really want the consequences of winning the argument with my spouse? Do I need my point to be known so bad that I would want my spouse to feel like a loser, or for him to think of me as “the enemy?” Do I want to lower my friend's self esteem? Or even better, am I ready to live with the feeling of a loss when I was so sure I knew it all?
I used to find myself in arguments I had no business being involved in but my passion in my believes made me want to defend “the cause”, “the opinion” or “the arguments”, regardless of any consequences…While I didn't ask for the argument, I certainly didn't walk away from it. I used to not take time to figure out “the opponent”, or if even engaging myself in a debate was the wisest thing to do, until I suffered some casualties (words said that didn't need to be said, feelings hurt, and friendships bruised). Then I would wonder why the hell I got into this in the first place… Why didn't I let it go? Why didn't I drop it and why was it so important for me to be right, or “them” to know I was right? And then I learned that when you feel it’s ineffective and pointless to put up a fight, it wouldn't be a cowardly act to drop it and run away from it all. There are battles “worth fighting”, and then there are battles “just wise enough to ignore.” BUT there are also those battles that NEED to be addressed and that means that if you truly feel you must battle with someone, you have to go into it with knowledge and be wise. Know what you are arguing for, without the emotion of anger. If you believe you are right then it is always worth standing up for righteousness but be aware that the opponent will have the strength in his/her belief also, so be open minded.

"Every question asked and every answer given is subject to being a violation depending on who feels like reporting what... and the reasons don't matter."

“Choose your battles wisely. After all, life isn't measured by how many times you stood up to fight. It's not winning battles that makes you happy, but it's how many times you turned away and chose to look into a better direction. Life is too short to spend it on warring. Fight only the most, most, most important ones. Let the rest go.”
~C. JoyBell C

Hopefully, we can all learn to choose our battles more wisely.

So what about you? What was the most valuable advice ever given to you? Or what is/was an advice you now regret not following?


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