I was scrolling through Instagram a few days ago, when I stumbled on a video of Will Smith, whose insight and motivation have played no small part in his recent explosion back into the popular culture consciousness. Now I say that I stumbled on it, despite the fact that I have been trying to curate Instagram in particular to shower me in motivation and positive thoughts. And while I recommend that practice for at least one of most people’s many social media platforms, I also frequently try to take time away from social media to decompress, but none of that is why I brought up this particular video.
He starts with the eye catching statement above, and then goes on to clarify further, and I will try to add the video or at least a link below. What most caught my attention however was the point he made, as it resonated with something I have been considering for most of the past week. I have seen similar arguments more succinctly stated as “Don’t take the criticism of someone you wouldn’t go to for advice”.
Especially in this time of the democratization of opinion sharing, it is far too easy to have a multitude of opinions hurled down upon you from the peak of people’s ivory towers. And while I appreciate the many voices that have risen to point out injustice and unfairness, and cast a light on many of the shadowy parts of our world, so too have come to light many voices wishing only to criticize and condemn even the most mundane opinions or expressions. For so many of us who function from a place of consideration and empathy, it can be very hard to learn whose opinion to take to heart.
Even for all those people who are well meaning, and just want you to avoid some of the pitfalls they faced along the way, you have to learn at some point to “Listen, smile, agree, and then do whatever the fuck you were going to do anyway’. That quote is from Robert Downey Jr. and I am honestly surprised so many quotes about this topic are coming to my mind so readily. But I guess it goes to show how long I have spent pondering the dilemma of taking advice. Hell, even my Dad and I were having a conversation about this topic just after Christmas.
And what it finally comes down to, is that no one else is running your race … no one else has been through what you have … and no one else understand your goals, your hopes, your dreams to the level you do. Even good advice, from someone you would appreciate it from, should still be put through the filter of your own mind. And at the end of the day, as you have to deal with the repercussions anyway, choose your own life and you’ll find you love living with the consequences regardless.
To wrap up, here’s the link to the video of Will Smith talking about taking advice …
As well as Theodore Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena speech, which sums up this idea even better …