What's central to successful decision-making and effective leadership? Is it an organized calendar? Or monthly business seminars?
If you answered "receiving advice" -- you're nearly correct.
Although we often seek both personal and professional wisdom from mentors, it turns out being sought out for advice is just as impactful as receiving it.
Researchers at MIT wondered what would happen if, instead of seeking advice, they asked struggling people to give it. In a series of experiments, researchers asked individuals who were struggling with all sorts of issues (from money problems to even health or academic problems) to advise other people on the very problems they were struggling with.
Although leaders of the study figured no new information would be conferred to the person giving advice, they thought the mere act of giving advice would at least increase his or her confidence -- a confidence that would "galvanize motivation and achievement even more than actual ability."
Across the board, they found that study participants found giving advice much more motivating than receiving it. For example, 72 percent of those struggling to save money found handing out advice more motivating than receiving tips from experts, and 68 percent of unemployed individuals reported that "giving advice made them feel more motivated to search for jobs than receiving advice."
Furthermore, research funded by an Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation Early Researcher Award even suggests that one can benefit from being a sage, as giving advice can be critical for finding meaning in life.
Sociologists at the University of Toronto found that individuals who give advice to a broad range of people tend to see their lives as especially meaningful, in comparison to individuals who don't have as many opportunities to dish out counsel. All in all, they found that "feeling useful is a key part of a life well-lived," and that this is especially true for people in their 60s.
It's very easy to think that the solution to our problems can be located through the wise words we receive from our friends, families, and mentors. But when it comes to finding motivation and meaning in life, consider giving out those wise words yourself.