“By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is the noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the most bitter.” ~ Confucius
Unfortunately most learn by experience. In other words, we learn the hard way. How many times I’ve wished that wasn’t’ the case in my own life. But I’m learning to train my ears on people who have learned by experience and reflecting on their experience. And when someone comes to me in the spirit of concern and love, I listen to them . . . even when what they have to say is something I’d rather not hear.
You see, wisdom often contradicts my desires, it interferes with my plans, it threatens to remove the blinders that have kept me safely in the dark and forces me to squint in the light of truth and look at all aspects of a situation. Sometimes it requires me to apologize. Other times it asks me to listen to the unjustified criticisms of another without defending myself. As Neal’s grandmother always said, “The less you speak, the more you hear.”
There are plenty of advisors in this world. Some may not have our best in mind. But for those who do—those who have nothing to gain if we listen to them or not—we should listen and reflect on what they say. Think of a ship out on the high seas during a violent storm. Apart from his instruments, the captain cannot have the same sense of direction as one who watches above the storm. In the tempest of our lives, we do not have the same understanding and perception as those standing on the outside looking in. I like what the first century Roman author, Publilius Syrus, said, “Many receive advice, only the wise profit from it.”
This week, be wise and listen to those who love you. Put down your will and take the blinders off. Honestly reflect on what they say. Then make your decision.