Board of Directors
Stop Soliciting Advice From Strangers
“Maybe he doesn’t have enough money to take you out on more dates.”
Candace, a cheerful chatty Lyft driver, had picked me up outside Austin’s Paramount Theatre after my date ended.
She had spotted me hugging a guy before I climbed into the back of her black SUV and was ready to get personal.
“What were you up to tonight,” she asked casually, opening up the conversation.
“A friend invited me to see this cool documentary film festival.”
Her question lingered in the air as I sighed deeply, ready to spill my heart to a stranger.
I explained the backstory of my relationship to the guy. How we had met through mutual friends and had gone on a handful of dates. The confusing part to me was that he would never text me in between dates but would reappear each month with a creative night planned.
Candace had a theory.
“He’s probably broke. When does he take you out, on payday? Next time, grab a blanket, some snacks and do a free date in the park.”
Though I could sense there were some flaws in her conclusion, I was open to the idea that I wasn’t the problem.
Arguably, her advice was bad.
In fairness, she had met me five minutes prior and was my Lyft driver, dependent on my five star rating.
I’m sure telling me this guy was not interested in me is 1 star territory.
Advice From Strangers
I used to always find myself soliciting advice from strangers. During ride shares, random parties, first dates, even long plane rides, I’d introduce a problem in my life to an innocent bystander and hope they would give me some life changing advice.
Maybe because I’ve collected a few of these nuggets over my lifetime, I can now see that asking a stranger to peek into my life and make an important decision for me is not a great idea.
It can be fun to open up to a stranger, but I’ve mistaken those short conversations as more honest and pure. I used to believe that a stranger could tell you something about yourself that no one else could.
Now I see we’re all limited by our own experiences and perspectives. Without knowing the details of my life, random people can only advise me by pulling on their own life experiences.
Perhaps Candace once knew a good guy who had trouble dating because he had no money and was seeing a reflection of that in the guy I described.
What she didn’t know is that I’m avoidant and non confrontational. The advice I needed to hear was to stop asking Lyft drivers about my relationship and ask the guy I’m dating instead.
While Candace’s advice was harmless and a fun memory to look back on, I have begun to rethink my relationship with soliciting advice from strangers.
In the past couple years, I’ve made some important life decisions that have taken me farther away from the status quo.
In those moments, I wanted to be selective about who I was bringing in as my support team. I think it can be hard for those used to the status quo to advise people to leave it.
An example is when I moved back and forth between California to Texas. Many people I knew in both places grew up in each state and had never lived elsewhere.
When I decided to move from California to Texas, many Californians were surprised and told me Texas was in the south and a scary place they’d never move to.
When I moved back to California from Texas, many Texans told me I shouldn’t go back to such an expensive city that seemed difficult to live in.
Having lived in both places and a handful of other regions in the United States, I’m always surprised that people imagine anywhere unknown to be terrible.
In both instances, after negative feedback, I stopped telling people my plans. I can be impressionable and didn’t want to be swayed by other people’s projections.
That being said, I don’t want to silo myself every time a decision has to be made. I do have doubts and sometimes need guidance.
Find Your People
I’ve put together a list of people who I can discuss major life decisions with.
I’ve come across specific methods for this and have blended in my own flavor. In Start Finishing, author Charlie Gilkey helps you build a “success pack”.spoke about building a personal Board of Directors in a mentor session for Write of Passage. I love the name Board of Directors and seeing myself as a little startup.
My team is a mix of family, friends and people in the creator community.
My parents are my cheerleaders. They are 100% biased. In their minds, I’m amazing and sometimes they suggest I run for president. While they would prefer I take less risks because they want me to be stable and safe, they have always supported me when I’ve wanted to make a big change in my life.
I go to them when an idea is a tiny seed in my brain. At that point, I need positivity and encouragement to start tending to my seed.
When I decided to leave my job and the corporate world, my parents opened up their home to me. Fully biased because they loved having me at home. However, when I told them I wanted to start writing, they immediately saw my name on the New York Times bestseller list.
My sister and close college friends act as a sounding board for me when my idea has taken root and needs nourishment.
My sister was the one who helped me go into all my bank accounts, add up my net worth and calculate exactly how long I could financially support myself if I left my full time job.
Luckily, I had friends who had taken sabbaticals from work and launched their own businesses, so they not only gave me the confidence to do it myself, but were my guiding light.
Finally, I was lucky to meet some amazing creators and writers in the past few months after taking Write of Passage. Having friends who I can talk shop with is my fertilizer. I can feel myself growing twice as fast now that others on the same path as me are willing to give me specific and actionable feedback.
Having a group of people I can trust to bring positive energy into my life and help me grow is absolutely priceless.
In the past, I liked to imagine that one day I’d finally find the one person who could tell me what to do with my life. A fairy godmother dressed as a punky barista or mechanic seated next to me on the plane, ready to give me the wisdom to make all the right decisions in my life.
Those people may be interesting to talk to, but they can’t know me well enough to give me life changing advice.
I remember laughing with Candace in her car and appreciated that she gave me a different perspective on my relationship. I hope I never lose the simple joy of connecting with a stranger.
Still, a 12 minute ride may be filled with little gems and jokes, but it can never replace the wisdom and support that comes from my Board of Directors.
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