Departments

Advice

Advice has a doubtful reputation. Giving advice seems pretentious; taking advice seems weak. This attitude is foolish, but no more foolish than mistaking advice for an afterthought or pleasantry. Advice is dangerous. Giving advice is dangerous: a small observation, a fine distinction, a tentative suggestion, can change someone’s life. Nothing will impress on you more how uncertain and unstable life is than to see your advice taken, to see words you have given an hour’s, a minute’s thought – to see these words lever someone’s life out of one course and into another. Taking advice is dangerous: there is no pleasure that you can give another human being greater than the pleasure of taking their advice; nothing that makes a person more grateful, nothing that binds a person to you more loyally. Advice is so dangerous that to avoid it the platitude was invented. Remember that to have advisers and projects worth advising is among the privileges of kings. Giving advice is a way to serve; taking advice is a way to rule.