All advice is good… unless it’s bad

My wife and I were chatting about the advice we’d been given over our careers that turned out to be bad.

And, it turns out, we’ve both had the same experience in that both of us have been given advice that seemed right at the time, but turned out to be disastrous later on.

For example, my wife was a trainer for a large banking institution.  On one of her feedback forms someone had written ‘Renee is very nice’.


Not according to her boss.  Apparently, if the only thing that someone can think of to write on your feedback form is that ‘you’re nice’ then you’ve failed.  So my best beloved spent the next few years being a right git in the classroom, making sure delegates were thoroughly trained.  (That last bit was made up, just in case she reads this… she was still nice, sorry I meant to say thorough)

Years later, though, she found that she had to change.  She works in EB where the relationship with her clients is much more important.  It seems as though relationship comes first (and this usually means ‘does this person like me?) and then we can do business.

The advice turned out to be wrong.

The same thing happened to me.

When I was growing up in a bank, a manager once said to me: ‘make sure you keep your nose clean, don’t make any mistakes and you’ll be a manager one day.’

Okay, I thought.  Good advice… uninspiring, but good.

I concentrated hard on not making mistakes and had a pretty decent career.  So good, I moved to Virgin where I carried this philosophy through… no mistakes.

So, one day, three months into my job, I was asked to go and see the CEO.  ‘Richard,’ says she, ‘You haven’t made any mistakes since you’ve been here.’

I preened a bit.  ‘No,’ I said, thinking I was getting some praise.

‘Well, will you f*^k off out of my office and make a mistake so I know you’re developing yourself!’

You just can’t win, can you?  It turns out the advice I was given was wrong, too.

But was it?

I’m not so sure.  I don’t think the advice either of us was given was wrong, it just passed its sell by date.  It grew stale and we hadn’t replaced it with new, more up to date info.

The thing is, we should really get advice from lots of places so we can cross check and make sure we make our minds up based on a rounded view of what’s actually going on.

1 comment for “All advice is good… unless it’s bad

  1. 29 August, 2011 at 12:43

    I would really like to say thank you very much for your job you have made in writing this post. I am hoping the same perfect job from you later on as well.

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