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Leave Mine To Me

“No one wants advice — only
corroboration.” — John Steinbeck

This may be excessively cynical but does capture a grain of
truth. The nub of it is in determining exactly what is being corroborated.
Steinbeck’s idea is that, instead of advice, people want you to confirm and add
your support to something. As you think about this, consider Plutarch’s dictum,
“Vos vestros servate, meos mihi linquite mores”
as well as the words of Bill Cosby, “A word to the wise ain’t necessary — it’s
the stupid ones that need the advice,” speaking of cynical points of view.
To advise or not to advise, that may be the question. As you ponder your
options, Tolkien’s perspective in The Lord of the Rings expresses some of that
advice that you may or may not find confirming.

Frodo says, “Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will
say both no and yes.” To that advice, Gildor replies, “Elves seldom give
unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the
wise ….”

Fortunately, Tolkien likely found a resolution to Steinbeck’s
dilemma. Never give unguarded advice; but if advice you must give, be sure it’s
corroborative. To do this, you simply need to know two things: How to guard
the advice and against what, and What you are corroborating and how to do
that. That makes it pretty easy, doesn’t it?

You likely don’t need any further advice about giving advice.
That’s the way it is when people are Soooo smart like you are. Either way, a
couple of folks have shared perspectives that may speak to the question, if you
are interested. The first is Samuel Taylor Coleridge who said, “Advice is like
snow — the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks
into the mind.” Advice should always be given as quietly and gently as a
snowflake. Even then, know that it may freeze on contact. Elizabeth George
Speare probably knew the secret, “The answer is in thy heart. Thee can always
hear it, if thee listens for it.” There you go. The corroboration the person
wants is in your heart. Just be sure they receive it.

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