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Matt's Editorials: Sailing is a Metaphor for Life

Unsolicited advice

It is a sad fact that most men don’t appreciate getting unsolicited advice. That said, there are even those among us who reject advice they have asked for out of hand and in a dismissive way.

The giving and receiving of advice is always a delicate balance. Even though probably 75% of my mail comes in without an outgoing signature and I could pull my hair out over it at times, I still write “May I suggest….”, when I should say “Haven’t you heard me mention this before?” (I try to keep my suggestion about providing a FULL outgoing signature from being mentioned in my editorials to only once or twice a WEEK. Perhaps I need to pick up the pace.)

Call me Mr. Know-it-all, but I try to ask at least one stupid question a day. They sometimes begin with “What do you think?” Sure, I already know the correct answer, but I have found out that from time to time people surprise me with one I was not expecting and it is a better answer than the one I had in mind. (Lucky thing I didn’t go first!)

Seeking advice requires that you be a good listener. While you may have “heard it all before,” one just never knows when some wise guy will come up with some new twist on a well worn idea. If you aren’t really listening, you will miss it.

Take this Internet thing for example. Why would anyone not want to be able to go down to the post office and mail real letters to people they know? (This whole texting thing is over rated, don’t you think?) And, what should those of us who still have preprinted stationery do with it? Thank goodness the people who dreamed up the Internet didn’t ask me. I had just figured out how to do a mail merge for letters and envelopes and I was very happy. Who knew I would be even happier?

If you ask enough people to help you solve a problem you are more likely to be able to improve on any solution you have in mind. It is even possible that the final shape of your idea will be better than anything that has come before. Such is the power of what is known in the computer world as distributed data processing. (Another idea that no one asked my opinion about!)

I think all of you would agree that having someone ask YOUR opinion is a great honor. It makes you feel good. It even gets those old brain cells working. Perhaps it even helps you shape your own ideas from time to time by causing you to consider alternatives for someone else.

You know, we could create a whole “thing” in The FENG by asking for each other’s advice. Not only would all of us feel good about ourselves and feel important, but we might also all end up smarter.

Who knew? (Again, they didn’t ask me!)

Regards, Matt

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