In the early 90’s, I was with the team that built the original holding facilities at Guantanamo Bay. These were built for the Haitians fleeing to the United States. A rumor floated through the camps that if one could only step on U.S. soil, the Americans must let you stay. The Haitians knew that Florida was only 90 miles from Cuba. So close, but so far away. As a cruel joke, the Americans had built the camp on the shore where the Haitians could even see Florida on the horizon across the ocean.
About once every three weeks, one of the Haitians would decide to make a break for it. They would use something to throw over the fence, scramble down the rocks and dive into the water. The race was on as they swam with all their might. And to their amazement nobody would pursue. They would swim and swim and would finally reach the land. There they were welcomed by U.S. military personnel who would help them out of the water and then congratulate them on reaching the OTHER SIDE of Guantanamo Bay.
As islanders, the Haitians struggled with the concept of distance. Rather than seeking information from people who had more knowledge, the “escapees” made decisions based on advice from people who had no knowledge of the topic. The land they saw was not Florida 90 miles away, it was the west side of GITMO about two miles away. Even if someone could swim that distance to Florida, they would have been hauled back to Port Au Prince just the same as if they were detained in Cuba.
It was really amusing, but it brings up a good question. How often do we take advice from people who have no clue? When you step back and look at it from a distance, it’s really funny. Here are some examples that I have seen (and I bet you have, too).
Get rich advice from the bum.
Pick-up lines from a guy that hasn’t been on a real date in three years…and may not again anytime in the near future.
Dieting tips from the obese guy.
Obviously, it’s a fool’s errand to listen to such advice. We can easily see how that is funny. But how often do we accept such advice in our own lives? And amazingly, these are often things that have major life implications. Let’s try a few different examples.
Promotion tips from a peer who hasn’t been able to get promoted.
Career guidance from a fellow student.
Advice on how to have more peace in your life from the friend whose life is out of control.
Relationship counseling from your single friends.
Money management strategies from the broke guy across the hall.
The challenge I have for you is to step out of your comfort zone. Rather than listening to idiots, find someone who is a success at what you are looking to improve and ask their advice. You will be surprised at how many of them will be willing to share their experiences with you.