The Power of Advice and Being Human
Updated: Jun 12, 2018
CWP Monday Morning Digest June 4th, 2018 | Volume 22
The Power of Advice and Being Human
Do you value advice? Not just the type of advice that you would get from a friend or family member, but the advice you would receive from a professional and/or expert?
One of the most powerful things that we provide to each other as human beings and members of our respective communities is the ability to give each other advice. Advice, you see, is the most powerful form of leverage available to us.
There is no possible way we could expect to be an expert in everything. There are a lot of complex and even simple things in our day-to-day lives in which it's helpful to get advice. Not sure how to discipline your child for acting up in class? Well, you could read a book on it, there is no shortage of those. Or you could seek advice from people you respect, like your parents and grandparents.
There are certain areas that getting professional advice is a given. If you're in trouble with the law, seeking help from an attorney is an absolute must. If you haven't the foggiest idea about taxes or tax code, paying a CPA to assist you with completing a tax return is a no-brainer.
Our focus this week is a podcast that absolutely blew my mind related to the power of being human and giving other humans advice. If you haven't listened to a Radiolab podcast before, or you don't necessarily listen to podcasts in general, this is a great one to start with and get you hooked. The team from Radiolab start the show by looking at the use of chatbots, or "bots", in the social media landscape and how far artificial intelligence has come.
While I found the show really entertaining as they worked with an audience trying to decide who was a chatbot and who was human in a text conversation, the best stuff comes if you fast-forward to the 39:30 mark of the episode where Josh Rothman from the New Yorker joins the show to talk about his adventures in Barcelona at the Sanchez-Vives Lab.
The Sanchez-Vives Lab is a virtual reality lab run by Mavi Sanchez-Vives and her husband, Mel Slater, and is one of the most amazing things I've come across when it comes to virtual reality and artificial intelligence.
Essentially, Sanchez-Vives and Slater can bring people in their lab into an alternate body or avatar. While in the lab, you start in a room that is completely blacked out. You dawn a headset, and then you find yourself in a simulated room standing in front of a digital mirror, looking at the new, "virtual you".
That "virtual you" can be anything -- a man, a woman, people of different races and creeds, tall or short. Imagine you're a relatively short person and want to experience being tall. The Sanchez-Vives lab could put you into the body of a virtual tall person and you would get to watch yourself move around as though you were a seven footer!
All that fun aside, the story that Rothman walks you through at the end of the podcast is the meat of the show.
Rothman ventured to Barcelona to be transported to a digital room and can see himself sitting across from Sigmund Freud. He is instructed to talk to the legendary neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis about an issue that had been causing him extraordinary stress - the fact that he had recently put his mother into a nursing home in Virginia while he remained living in New York.
The lab tech instructed Rothman to detail his problem to Freud, and he was able to see himself asking for help in an almost out-of-body experience.
While the exchange is absolutely riveting, the moment that Rothman viewed himself as "just another person" was the part that moved him the most. He ended up playing the part of Freud, too and was able to psychoanalyze himself.
What was the key to being able to accomplish this exercise? The fact that Rothman was able to remove himself from his own thinking and view himself outside of his body deserves the credit. What Rothman was able to do as a "virtual" Freud working with his own "virtual" self could never have been accomplished had that conversation taken place in his head. He had to remove his thinking from his body to give himself real advice.
Not all of us have the luxury of using a virtual reality lab, obviously, but this is a powerful lesson. Humans are notorious for being afraid of asking for advice or help, deciding to go things alone more often than not.
This is really unfortunate. I know it's not easy to find people you trust, and asking for advice leads to being vulnerable. But attempting to go things alone can be very detrimental to your health and your finances, as well.
Would seeking advice help you in some way? Give it some thought.
Go be great this week, and be kind to someone who needs it. Maybe someone could use your advice, too.
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