Ep. #25: The Weight of Bad Advice

How many times have you followed advice that’s burned up your time, money, and energy, and gotten you nowhere? In this episode we discuss the various types of weight that result from following bad advice, and what you can do to avoid it and put yourself on the critical path to wealth.


Welcome to Rich & Thin™ Radio, the only podcast that helps you cut weight to create wealth. Today’s episode is to alert every listener to the weight that is caused by bad advice. I’m Kelly Hollingsworth and I’m happy you’re here because too many of us are sinking in a quagmire of bad advice, and today we’re going to talk about how to get out of that.

I’m thinking a lot about bad advice today because I just got off the phone with a telephone solicitor, a delightful young man named Anthony, who wants to become an attorney. This isn’t why he called me. He called me because he works for a company that sells OSHA compliance services to business owners, and my husband and I recently set up a new LLC to make an investment in real estate. It’s always good idea, by the way, to invest in real estate through an LLC for reasons that we might discuss in an upcoming episode. But in any case, I told him that this LLC is only to make investments, it doesn’t have employees, it will never have employees, so we don’t need any OSHA compliance services for it.

And this is when Anthony started asking, well what do you do? And I mentioned that I’m an attorney and he said “oh, that sounds so cool,” and so we started talking about it, and it turns out he wants to become an attorney, so I asked him what he was doing to get going on that, I’m always pestering strangers about what they are doing to pursue their goals. Another thing I do is when people tell me what they do is I ask them, “How’s money from that? Are you making money at that?” And I find out the craziest reasons that people are or are not getting going, and are or are not making any money. I find it fascinating the limitations that we will put in front of our ourselves, and in this case, the case of this young man named Anthony, what he was doing to pursue his goal of becoming an attorney is taking classes. He specifically mentioned that he was taking a class in civics, and he may have also mentioned criminal justice, or I could just be imagining that part.

But in any case, someone told him that to prepare for a career in law he should take these classes, and he bought into that advice. But here’s the thing. Anthony already has a degree. His undergraduate degree is in business management. That’s all the classes you need to get started in law school. Some kind of degree in undergraduate school. So taking more classes prior to law school is what?

In the words of critical-path planning, it is a diversion. If you didn’t listen to the episode on the critical path to wealth, I think it’s episode three, you may want to go back and listen to that. But essentially, the critical path is the shortest distance between you and your goal. You do this thing and you do the next thing and then you do the other thing, and you do nothing that’s unnecessary, nothing that is a diversion, and then you get to your goal much faster.

And what Anthony was doing with these extra classes between undergraduate school and law school is the textbook definition of a diversion. Why is he taking these classes? Bad advice. And bad advice puts on all kinds of weight that keeps us from creating wealth.

The first kind of weight is logistical weight. Remember from episode one: logistical weight is the extra stuff in our schedule that we are doing, it’s keeping us busy, but it’s not getting us anywhere. Anthony is a full-time employee. He works for this company that sells OSHA compliance services. So how much extra time does he have to burn on unnecessary stuff? Not much, I would imagine. These extra classes he’s taking between undergrad and law school is logistical weight. It’s burning his time, but not getting him anywhere.

There’s also mental weight that’s caused by bad advice. When you have a dream in front of you, and you start doing an unnecessary task to achieve that dream, you start following a diversion and straying off the critical path to getting there, what happens?

You create a circumstance where it’s really easy to start thinking of yourself as a person who doesn’t really get where they want to go. You also create a circumstance where it’s really easy to begin thinking that it’s really difficult to accomplish the things you want in life. It seems to take so much time and energy, and why is everything so hard? Of course, those of us who listened to episode two of this podcast know that every circumstance is neutral, we make it mean what it means to us with the thoughts we think about the circumstance. But, some circumstances are far more easy to manage our minds in than others. This is why circumstance-management is important. And the people who get stuck in these endless diversions–they could go on forever–very predictably begin thinking about themselves as people who don’t accomplish their goals.

Recall from episode one: mental weight is the weight of an identity that doesn’t serve you. If you start thinking of yourself as a person who doesn’t accomplish goals, that can be a lot to get out from under.

And then there’s emotional weight. Our mental weight leads to emotional weight. With an identity that we’re not someone who accomplishes goals (our identity by the way is just the catalog of thoughts that we think about ourselves) what happens then? We know that our thoughts drive our emotions. And these kinds of thoughts– I’m just not the kind of person who accomplishes goals. Everything is harder for me than it is for everyone else. For me, I just spin and spin and spin, and spend money and time and effort, and I don’t get anywhere– all of this is a mental catalog that very predictably leads to a host of emotions that weigh us down even further. We feel frustration. Doubt. Fear. Paralysis.

Bad advice, my friends, is the beginning of a massive broke-and-bulky snowball that gains ever-increasing girth and eventually topples many of us. This is why we wind up living in basements and working at ho-hum jobs and doing whatever it is we’re doing that is diverting us from creating our wealth and living the lives we want.

Now, I’m not saying that Anthony is in this boat. Anthony is a rock star. How do I know he’s a rock star? Because he’s curious. He’s willing to go off script. He’s willing to ask questions and open his mind to a different way than what he has heard previously. And what happened as a result of his willingness to do these things?

We spent 15 minutes on the phone. Fifteen minutes. And during that time we not only sorted out the OSHA issue–that I’m just not a purchaser of that service. We were also able to talk about his particular interest in law, and how he can take that interest and turn it into a money-making practice. And we talked about his critical path to getting there. He already has the undergraduate degree. The next thing he should do is drop everything and sign up for the law school admissions test, the LSAT, and begin studying like a maniac. We saw this in Legally Blonde. Elle Woods was on a mission to get accepted to Harvard Law School, and what did she do? She dropped everything and did nothing but study for the LSAT until she had a score high enough to get her in.

That’s exactly what I did when I was studying for the LSAT. I dropped everything and spent the summer by the pool. This may sound glamorous, but that pool was basically a concrete hole with water in it, in the parking lot outside the crappy apartment I lived in as a waitress in undergraduate school. But it was still a pool, and I hung out by it, and all I did was work the puzzles that make up the LSAT exam. By the time I went to take that test, I think it was in October, I could work those puzzles forward, and backward, and blindfolded, and I could do them faster than anyone. And I scored in the top 4% on that round of the LSAT, and then what happened?

Law schools sent me letters. “We want you to come to our school. We’ll give you a full ride. We’ll give you a half ride.” The candidates who do well on the LSAT, those who kill that exam, are the ones who get the financial benefits at law school. This is true even if you don’t have a stellar GPA from an Ivy League university. Kill that exam, and you change your legal and financial future if you want to study law. How does this change your financial future? When you get scholarships, that obviously helps, but it doesn’t stop there. You don’t become the law student who is $250,000 in debt when you graduate, and $400,000 or $500,000 in debt ten years later because you can’t pay off your law school loans, they’re generating a whole bunch of interest, and you’re living off credit cards.

And here’s the charm of my new friend Anthony. He didn’t argue. He just listened, and he told me, “Wow. My mouth is open. I didn’t even know that this was possible. I’m sitting here staring at my screen—my mouth is open–and all I can think is, now I’m on my way.”

This is the power of critical-path planning. If you decide, “I am going to do this in the most efficient manner. I’m going to do this in the quickest way and in the way that will provide the biggest financial benefit, and cost the least amount of money,” everything else falls away and the path emerges. And that generates excitement. When we are thinking, “Wow. Now I see how to get where I’m going, and I’m seeing the quickest, most efficient way to get there,” we feel excited and we want to get started.

And this doesn’t mean that this is going to be easy. There’s… there’s some work to do, in studying for the LSAT and in going to law school. But I’ve been through it, and I can promise you, most of the difficulty has nothing to do with the work itself. It’s all of the drama that we bring to the work. It’s, “I don’t… I don’t know if this is can work out. I don’t know if I’ll make any money as a lawyer. I don’t know if I’m even going to want to practice law.” It’s, “This is so hard. No one could humanly do all the things they’re insisting that I do in these classes. This is hogwash.”

But I promise you, my new friend Anthony, and everyone else who is looking at doing something that seems like it’s going to be a gargantuan task: If you manage your mind to get rid of all of this mental weight, and the emotional drama that it generates, the difficult things become a walk in the park. How many times have you spent 10 hours, or 10 days, or 10 years agonizing over a task that took 10 minutes? I might be exaggerating here a little bit, but we’ve all experienced this. The handwringing takes a lot longer than digging in and doing whatever it is that we’re wringing our hands about.

So that’s what I have for you today. Be on the alert for bad advice. When someone is advising you to do something to help you achieve a goal, recognize that they are almost always selling you something. In Anthony’s case, what they were selling was courses. Not courses to law school that would actually have helped him, but courses that he didn’t need at all.

So what can we glean from this? The first thing is that when someone’s giving you advice, ask them, “Is this part of the quickest path between me and my goal?”

If they’re honest, they will tell you. In Anthony’s case, they should have said, “No. You absolutely do not need these classes to have a legal career. The only thing you need to do is take the LSAT, go to law school, and pass a bar exam.”

For all of us sitting on the outside, looking in at his situation, this seems obvious, and it is. But when it’s our own stuff we’re dealing with, it’s anything but obvious. This is how the diversions sneak in. This is why a would-be real estate agent, instead of just taking the eight-week licensing class and sitting for the realtors’ exam, pursues a 4-year hospitality degree. It’s why another lawyer I know actually got a PhD before he started law school. He didn’t want a PhD. Someone told him that a law degree is a doctorate and he thought that meant post-doctorate, so he got the PhD before he went to law school.

This is why so many of us are burning money and time on classes and useless degrees, even advanced degrees. It’s all bad advice. And it’s why we need a coach, and we need the right kind of coach. Many of you have hired coaches. I’ve been hearing from you about bad coaching, what they’ve told me is that they said you need to deal with your childhood trauma and your current relationship with your parents and your impending divorce and all of that other stuff before you can get going on the journey of creating wealth and meeting your goals and creating the life you want.

And here’s what I want you to consider on that. The journey, not the trail head, is where you shed the weight. One reason for this is that you will never know, you can never know, what you need and don’t need to have with you until you actually get started on the trail. Consider the movie Wild. Reese Witherspoon’s character starts down that path on the Pacific Crest Trail with her monster backpack, and as she is proceeding on her journey, as she is getting towards her goal of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, that’s when it becomes clear what she needs and doesn’t need. That’s when it’s clear that shedding weight is a natural and great-feeling consequence of doing the things you really want to do. It feels organic to let go of things when you’re proceeding on your way and it becomes obvious that this thing or that thing or the other thing that’s weighing you down doesn’t need to be there. It’s detracting from, not enhancing, your life and the achievement of your goal.

This is how I want you to think about things in your own life. Once you get started, that’s when the weight falls away. In the movie Forrest Gump, when he finally starts running away from the bullies, that’s when the braces just fall off his legs. This is how it happens for all of us. We can stay stuck and think that we’re magically going to shed weight in our current position just sitting there going nowhere, and then we’ll get going, but the truth is we have to walk our way out of it. I think Bill Burr actually has a standup special called this. Walk your way out. In that special, he’s talking about people who are physically overweight, but this advice works for all of us no matter what the weight is—physical, logistical, mental, emotional: walk your way out. Or run your way out, if you’re in a hurry, and that’s a metaphor you prefer.

So what I want you to consider doing today is hiring not just a coach. But the right kind of coach. I don’t care if it’s me, or if it’s another coach that can help you get on the critical path, but I suggest that you do it now so you don’t burn days and weeks and months and years of your life staying stuck in the same old place under the same old weight.

I said in our first episode of this podcast that I am not a billionaire, but there’s one thing I know above all else. If I had known then, what I was starting out, what I know now, I would be a billionaire. Because I would’ve gotten out of my own way. I would have served more people, and I would’ve served them better, and I would’ve generated massive financial wealth for myself as a result. And I also wouldn’t have burned decades of my life feeling mired down in all kinds of things that weren’t serving me, or anyone else.

Anthony experienced life-changing results in 15 minutes. He is on a new trajectory, and I know this is available for any of us who want to begin doing this work and putting it to use in our own lives. So if you are thinking at all about getting in touch with me, scheduling a consult to work with me on moving forward with your big dreams, your business or your body or anything else, get in touch with me. There’s no reason to wait. You will feel much better when you do. Go to richandthin.com to access my calendar and set up a free consultation, or email me. kelly@richandthin.com. That’s Kelly with a Y. And thanks for joining me today. I look forward to chatting with you next time.

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