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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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