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The Best Advice I Ever Got

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | March 28, 2009

"Advice is one of those things it is far more blessed to give than to receive." 
Carolyn Wells

Roger Erdvig is the President/Founder of the Center for the Advancement of Christian Coaching. As we talked together over lunch he shared with me his passion for coaching. During our exchange he shared three lessons he learned from the world of construction, two from his father and one from his grandfather. 

His father demonstrated the importance of practice when he allowed him to make mistakes with pieces of oak. Roger said he ruined 10 pieces of wood but with each mistake he learned a little more.

Another important lesson his father taught him was that you can buy an awful lot with an egg sandwich. If he bought coffee or a sandwich for his employees, it fostered enormous good will. People can be told they are cared about without spending a lot of money. 

Finally, it was Roger's grandfather who advised him, "Steal all you can with your eyes." Over the years his grandfather watched and learned from everyone: the tile man, the electrician, the plumber, the brick layer, etc. He was a lifelong learner and he encouraged his grandson to be the same. 

That is really great advice. What is the best advice you have ever been given? I've been asking that question and I am always fascinated by the answers. Here are a few. 

  • "My father told me to always be true to myself." Paul Walker
  • "My pastor told me to stay humble and to trust in God. A mentor said that no provocation ever justifies an inappropriate response. That same mentor assured me that no clever amount of bad eggs ever made a good omelet." Bill Kirk
  • "My father said, 'Son, make sure you save. When you get it, put it in jail and lock it up.'" Philip Bongiorno
  • "My grandfather told me to do the work where the work needs to be done." Roger Lane
  • "Jim Loving, my mentor, challenged me to 'shoot for the stars and you might hit a street light.'" Brett Lawrence
If I were asked about the best advice I ever got, my thoughts would go quickly to two people, my mother and a preacher. My father died when I was a junior in high school and my mother, my brother (a senior) and a younger sister (12) and brother (9) had a dairy farm to operate. When things went wrong, my mother repeated often "It's just at the barn." It wasn't family. It was only partially important. 

The preacher's advice was equally transformational. I had just graduated from high school and for a year I worked on the farm pondering whether or not I should go to college. In answer to my inquiry Nathan Meyer said, "The time you take to sharpen your tools is never wasted." His advice gave me the courage to attend college which transformed my entire life. 

Some advice is given to make us smile such as when Miss Piggy said, "Never purchase beauty products in a hardware store." Or the advice Ronald Reagan gave, "You can tell a lot about a fellow's character by his way of eating jelly beans." 

Sometimes advice comes because we asked for it. Other times it comes unsolicited. Sometimes it warms our hearts. Sometimes it stabs our hearts. Erica Jong said, "Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't." 

Giving advice can cause the same reactions. Perhaps Horace understood the risks of giving advice when he said, "Whatever advice you give, be brief." And, lest we are tempted to keep our advice to ourselves, Agatha Christie encourages, "Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that's no reason not to give it." 

What is the best advice you ever got? What is the best advice you ever gave? 

Think about it.
Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
Responses can be mailed to president@vfcc.edu