What am I supposed to do with this advice?


The advice was a little unexpected.  Parts of it made sense, but other parts came as a surprise.  My husband and I were about to start an adventure – one that was taking place at over 13,000 feet above sea level.  If we lived in a high altitude city like Denver, as one of the people on our team did, we wouldn’t have needed the advice as much.  But my husband and I spend the majority of our lives at around 100 feet above sea level…unless we walk up the really big hill in our subdivision, which might get us to the 200 foot level.


Back to the advice…

The purpose for the advice was to help prevent us from experiencing altitude sickness.  We surely wouldn’t be able to enjoy the adventure if we were ill.  So here is what we were told…

  • Drink at least two liters of water a day.  Dehydration is the number one cause of altitude sickness.
  • If you crave sweets, eat them!  Sugar helps prevent altitude problems.
  • If you get tired, rest.
  • If you begin to experience pain, take pain medication immediately.  Don’t try to “tough it out.”


Guess what?  It was all good advice!  By following it, our entire team avoided experiencing any adverse reactions to the high altitude.  Most of the advice was common sense.  I will say we had the most fun with the advice to eat sweets.  Were we supposed to stop doing that once we left the higher altitudes?  Whoops….


This made me think about how I respond to and value advice in other areas of my life.  I have begun to ask myself these questions:

Do I take the preventative actions needed to keep me from making mistakes?

Just like drinking plenty of water decreases the risk for dehydration, seeking wisdom from leaders around me can prevent me from making some missteps.  True, things are often learned best by doing them, and mistakes will happen, but it’s worth trying to learn from others!

Do I take instruction in its intended context?

I may or may not have bought a cupcake today just to take a picture for this post.  All the while, I convinced myself that “eating something sweet” is supposed to help me if I’m craving it.  The only problem – I’m not 10,000 feet above sea level right now.  That sugar just isn’t going to help me.  It’s going to work against me in my current context.  What happens when I take instruction out of its intended context?  I can’t rationally expect a good result!

Do I rest when I get tired?

As a leader, I’m temped to be on 100% of the time.  But my body wasn’t created to do that.  I need rest in order to renew and refresh and repair.  How often do I really allow myself the opportunity to rest?  Taking a break is not a sign of weakness.  In reality, it’s a sign of strength.  It shows that I am aware of my limitations and I work with them, not against them.  (For more on how to create a rhythm in life that includes rest, watch this.)

Do I try to tough things out when I should be seeking support instead?

This is a pride thing, no question.  I hate going to the doctor.  I would much rather try to push through and make it on my own.  But sometimes I just can’t fix myself without help.  This week I had to make a visit to urgent care – not the top thing on my “fun” list.  But if I hadn’t gone, my throat would still be swollen almost shut and I wouldn’t have a voice.  I had to lean into the resources around me and allow them to help me.  And now I’m better for it!


Before I leave you with the wrong idea, I’m not saying that you should follow 100% of the advice that you get. Not all advice is good advice, and not all of it applies right now.  But look at advice in context.  Know that it may apply for a specific season.  And lean into the expertise of those who have gone before you.


You just might become a better person as a result.


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