A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, or why younger men sometimes totally disregard the advice of their older peers.
I’ve known this cliché for a long time, even at a younger age. For the longest time I thought that this cliché was one of empowerment in that, if you have even a little knowledge you could be capable or dangerous to others. Through conversation with my father I learned that I didn’t have the complete answer.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing means that though one may know something, one does not know what one doesn’t know and make faulty decisions based on a the three data points when one should make a decision based on twenty. That is to say, if someone has a small knowledge of martial arts, he should not assume that he is therefore a kung fu master and start getting into fights. Sure, he might beat up a few guys who don’t know anything about fighting, but should he come up against someone with medium experience he’ll lose bad.
This cliché is especially applicable to younger men like myself. Often we learn a few things in a field of interest and we jump to many conclusions. Maybe we even accrue some experience that supports our grand total of five data points in head. Often we get to the point where we’re so confident in our expertise that we ignore the advice of our older peers who are trying to help because we think what we’re doing “makes sense” and “it’s worked before”. Of course, the guy trying to help us out is working with fifty data points and sees exactly where we’re going wrong and even explains it to us and still we ignore him only to learn the hard way that he was right all along.
This has happened to me plenty of times concerning advice with my Dad. This happens to plenty of younger guys just starting out in the game when their culturally ingrained beta advice wins out against the advice they get from their player friends or experienced mentors. This has also happened to me more times than I’d like to admit. It is all well and fine to learn by trial and error, and young men certainly have the time to learn from their mistakes. Often being young is the perfect time to learn from your mistakes because the consequences are relatively small. I mean, compare heart-break, writing love poems, and whining to anyone who will listen about how you fucked up to getting raped in divorce court, losing your kids, your lover, and tons of money in asset division; child support payments, and alimony. Learning from your mistakes at a young age beats the shit out of doing the same when you’re older.
But there’s another way to learn that’s faster and less painful. It’s called learning from the mistakes of others and taking the advice of others. I’ve had good relations with my parents and have stayed out of a lot of trouble because I saw, or rather, heard what happened to my siblings when they misbehaved. The screams that echoed through the walls and throughout the house were effective in convincing me to pay attention to what they did and not repeat it! My siblings often thought I didn’t get spanked enough. I laughed and thanked them for being stupid for me. For the longest time I didn’t learn from other people’s mistakes regarding girls. But when I started to, I avoided a lot of pitfalls. Sure, I occasionally have an episode where I’m headstrong or my feelings get the best of me, but I learn so much more this way than just learning from my mistakes. This is not say that I don’t also learn from trial and error, I do both. I attribute following my father’s advice to a lot of success in my life.
How do I do this? I accept that my Dad has seen and done a hell of lot more than I have and pay attention to his advice. It helps that I’ve naturally preferred his company to my mom’s since around fourteen years of age and have had plenty of time to pick his brain when we’d go shoot sporting clays for the last four years. I learned what Emotional Quotient or EQ is, when to recognize that mine was low, and how to deal with it so that my emotions don’t control my life (or affect my shooting!). All I have to do is look at how successful my Dad is, what good health he is for his age and then the quality of his advice is self-evident.
I don’t only take advice from my Dad. I take advice from what I read on various blogs in the manosphere. Somethings I have to take with a grain of salt of course, because it’s the internet. Usually I read something, keep it at the back of my head, and quietly evaluate whether it is true or useful or not based on my own experiences. I don’t take advice from just anyone, however, I take advice from people who I have reason to think know more about a subject than I do. And I keep taking their advice until they prove otherwise.