There’s a theme that I’ve heard in many talks and have read in many books that has presented itself in real life to me time and time again. It’s the theme of Broke Uncle Joe. We all have a Broke Uncle Joe. You may call him by another name, but you have one for sure. So who is Broke Uncle Joe?
None of us are perfect. Subconsciously knowing that we aren’t perfect we tend to seek advice from family, friends, co-workers, and others. We do it before making small decisions and even more frequently in larger ones. Some people may even do it because they care what people think of them. Here’s the problem in seeking advice from certain people… you have to be cautious not to take poor advice from people who have good intentions.
Your family members aren’t intentionally going to give you poor advice. They’re going to tell you what they think is best for you even if they have no clue about the subject matter that is involved in the decision. As well-intentioned as their advice may be, if they don’t have knowledge of the subject matter then it may just be poor advice.
So here is where Broke Uncle Joe comes into play…
Let’s say you are thinking about starting a new business. You go tell your Broke Uncle Joe what you’re thinking and he tells you not to do it. In fact, he warns you not to do it. He tells you that it’s a bad idea and that you’d be better off saving your money or spending it on something else. Here’s the thing about Uncle Joe though, he broke. He’s been an employee his entire life and knows nothing about starting a business. He’s resolved to the mindset of work til retirement instead of working for it. He lives paycheck to paycheck and depends on his employer to put food on his table.
So, why should you go to your Broke Uncle Joe and ask him his opinion? You shouldn’t, yet people do it ALL THE TIME except it’s not their uncle. It’s their friends. It’s their co-workers. It’s some of their family members. That’s their Uncle Joe.
Let’s say you are having marital problems. Would you think it’s wise to seek marital advice from a friend who is single or has been divorced multiple times? It doesn’t matter how many people you talk to who are similarly situated. Thomas Carlyle said it perfectly, “I do not believe in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.”
Wouldn’t it make much more sense to seek advice from someone who has what you want? If you’re having marital issues, wouldn’t it be wise to seek counsel from someone who has a thriving marriage? If you want to be a millionaire, wouldn’t it make sense to ask millionaires how they became so wealthy instead of asking your Broke Uncle Joe who isn’t?
So keep this all in mind when you seek advice from well-intentioned people.