Getting professional advice is something we are all faced with on a fairly regular basis. Doing your taxes? Find a good accountant. Building an addition? Talk to an architect. Decorating your home? Hire a designer. Your business needs a social media presence? Social media experts will help you with that.

Buying a house can involve a slew of them – home inspectors, lawyers, and, hopefully, a realtor. Not feeling well? Seek a medical opinion from your doctor. Still not feeling well? Maybe a second opinion is in order. Professional advise of all sorts can be invaluable. But we should not confuse a professional opinion with a professional decision.

Sometime in the spring of 2005 I sat in the waiting room of an engineers office waiting to consult with the gentleman whom I had entrusted to design what would become our office home for the next 12 years and counting. There were seemingly a million things to consider. Things that I knew would affect the functionality, future viability, cost and efficiency of our business. The door opened, and out walked his previous appointment, and in I went. I don’t recall what our meeting was about, though I am sure the advice I received was sound – he was an excellent engineer, experienced and knowledgeable.

What I do recall, is that when our meeting concluded, his next appointment got up to enter the office just as I had done some 20 minutes earlier. The engineer was finished thinking about my problem, and rightfully so, was now thinking about his next client’s issues. I had arrived thinking about my problem. I left, thinking about my problem. And when I awoke that night somewhere between 2 and 4am in a cold sweat, (like I had the previous night) – my engineer was not there. The reality was, my mind was occupied 24 hours a day thinking and rethinking solutions until they had been resolved and a new set presented themselves. My engineer thought about my problem while I was sitting in front of him, and very little after.

“I may have been the second smartest person in a room of two, but I had given the issue the most thought.”

This is not a criticism. Rather, it is a reality. The issues for which we seek professional counsel often consume us around the clock. If this experience taught me one thing, it was to be a little more willing to trust myself. I may have been the second smartest person in a room of two, but I had given the issue the most thought.

The guidance you receive from an expert with more experience than yourself, and who genuinely cares about your situation is a bargain at twice the price. But the role of an adviser is not to make decisions, rather to inform you as best possible so that the decision you make is a beneficial one. There is no replacement for the thoughtful consideration and research conducted by the person affected most. You.

Thanks for reading,

Jeff Neumann