or advice or, for that matter, giving help or advice is
not nearly as innocuous as it may seem. This applies to
anyone. Receiving or giving advice is an interpersonal
interaction and, therefore, must involve that fragile
flower of human distinction, the ego. Unless you are an
ardent and blindly implacable empiricist, you've sought
help from someone. And, unless you live in a hole, you've
been successful at anything, you've received advice of
some sort from someone. It's impossible to really succeed
at anything anymore without the input of specialists in
a wide variety of complex areas that have become increasingly
difficult to comprehend independently. So we seek an expert.
Or do I mean "authority"? There's a difference.
And that difference separates the true expert from someone
who's just out to make money or bloat their ego.
detect a bias on my part. My own observations have caused
me to conclude that the difference between an expert and
an authority in humanism, and I happen to have a preference
for interacting with fellow humans.
need to be a humanist in order to amass a fortune, however.
As a matter of fact, by being a humanist you may get bogged
down with annoying side effects such as developing lasting
friends and good relationships, and you may just have
to settle for merely making a really good living. It's
as if we trade in some of our potential wealth for quality
If you stay
with me, I'll show you how this relates to differentiating
an expert from an authority. At some point in our workaday
lives, and really in our personal lives as well, we're
called upon to assist someone else. This means that relative
to that person we have some greater knowledge or experience.
At one extreme it could be as simple as a friend showing
you a trick he learned about using a computer. At the
other extreme we go to experts for highly complex problems
that require years of experience and education: physicians,
veterinarians, attorneys, accountants, therapists, mechanics,
computer gurus to name a few. Actually, any time two people
interact wherein one seeks the knowledge or experience
of the other, an expert-type relationship exists.
special relationship comes responsibility, and with that
responsibility comes the potential to abuse it.
being an expert is easy enough. But some people perceive
this as in some abstract way being better than the people
who seek their help. Unfortunately, this means that inherent
in this relationship is a sort of power. And how we handle
this power is what distinguishes the expert from the authority.
The authority depends on this imbalance. From this person
comes (in their mind) the bestowance of wisdom much to
your good fortune. The authority requires that the imbalance
remain intact even after the transaction has been completed.
has as their primary concern the transfer of information
with the result being that you are helped. The true expert
has very little (albeit, some) ego investment, and therefore,
is not threatened by your own knowledge and abilities.
In fact, your abilities are used as the foundation for
the assistance they give.
on the other hand, has a significant ego investment and
can have considerable difficulty acknowledging your capabilities.
Anyone who does not want to bother with more than the
simplest responses to your questions falls into this category.
will provide their advice while asking your opinions and
confirming what steps you may have taken. The authority
will ignore your abilities and cause you to feel uncomfortable
should you try to describe them.
If you're seeking advice, find an expert. You'll learn
more, it'll cost you less, and you may make a new friend.
giving advice, . . . Well, you decide which way you'd
like to go.
Personally, I'd rather invest in people. The payback is
better. The long term investment more secure. And anyway
I've never really gotten into hugging money.