The Best Advice Might be Your Own

When growing up, you probably heard it several times.

“Do as I say, not as a do.”

My dad was a smoker, but he didn’t want me to be a smoker, so he told me many times, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Forgetting for a moment that “actions speak louder than words,” in this case I followed his advice. I am not — and never have been — a smoker.

It’s funny how often our advice to others is better than the path we choose for ourselves. I think it’s a combination of the value of hindsight and the fact that knowing better is very different from doing better.

What’s criminal is not breaking free of those self-imposed restraints to follow your own advice and to turn things around for yourself. If advice is good enough for friends or associates, it should be good enough for us … especially when it’s coming from us.

Yet I see friends and associates regularly doing things they’d cringe to watch another person do.

I can just about guarantee that there’s some aspect of your business that could be a lot better if you’d just do the things you know you should be doing — simple things, easy things, inexpensive things. They could be done quickly and wouldn’t cost an arm or a leg. They would make your business stronger and more profitable.

But you don’t do them — even though you know you should — because it might mean confronting someone, making someone unhappy, changing the way things have been done for a long time or to stop procrastinating.

Sometimes I think about how much better my life could be if I just followed my own advice or always did the “smart” thing, even when it wasn’t the “easy” thing, the “fast” thing, the “fun” thing or the “popular” thing.

For the record, I usually manage to do the “right” thing … and I’m sure that you do, too. None of us is looking for ways to make life or business more difficult and we usually have pretty good radar for identifying the best path. But there are times when we just know we aren’t doing things the right way — when we take shortcuts.

What’s the thing that you could correct and make things better today? What’s stopping you?

My dad finally quit smoking when he retired. Physically, it wasn’t easy. He craved cigarettes for a long while after, but he knew what was best and that beating the habit would be better than letting the habit beat him. He enjoyed a long a relatively healthy life after retirement, at least partly because he was strong enough to follow his own advice.

We’ll all live better if we can do the same.

Think about it this way: If you’re not following your own advice, who’s advice are you following?