Skip to main content

Outlier’s Path

Function of Our History

Have you noticed those who are more mature and more developed in their craft, career, and life are full of advice? Those in the sunset years of their careers and lives are also full of stories punctuating their words of wisdom. The less initiated are fond of asking for enlightenment from those who appear ahead. The intellectual curiosity to ask, gather all the points of view and process them to form one’s opinion is paramount, but there are many reasons not to take the raw advice as gospel.

There is a reason that advice is free. It worked for the person asked, but that advice is unlikely to work for us. Our situation is different. The world has moved forward. New solutions developed, and new challenges are present. What has worked in the past is unlikely to work precisely in the future.

Understanding the historical perspective from where the advice comes from is also essential. So often, a person’s most staunch advice comes from what they fondly remember from their childhood or from fleeing past mistakes. As I often say, “we are a function of our history—we are either running towards or away from aspects of our history.” 

While we might be the less initiated, remember we are the rising stars, and those we seek advice from are likely the fading or faded stars, which many of them will freely admit. Nevertheless, those who came before us can still help us understand and grapple with the ideas, solutions, and transformations that paved the path to our present. Their historical understanding surfaces patterns invisible to us today and provides a crucial perspective for solving current and future problems. Just remember, we are the ones that will need to build the bridge to the future that we want.

P.S. This post was inspired by advice from my mother, who received it as advice from her father.