The Gift of Wise Council: Why Who’s At Your Table Seriously Matters

While scrolling Instagram yesterday, I came across a photo that was posted by a graphic designer. It read, “I am a graphic designer and this is the worst logo I’ve ever seen.

For your viewing pleasure, here it is:

I just want you to take a second and sit with it. If you’re like me, it gets worse the longer you look at it. I saw boobs first. Then someone’s backside. Then . . . it.

And for a women’s network no less!

Honestly. I try not to clutch my pearls too often but this one got me clutching.

When I see things like this, the first thought that always comes to mind is, who let this happen?

Did no one love this person enough to tell them what this looks like?

Was there not, like, anybody nearby to run this idea past before it was finalized?

It always gets me thinking about how important it is to have the right people at your table. Philosophers, scholars, and even the Holy Bible talk often about the importance of wise council—of having a collection of sage advisors to guide you through life’s difficult decisions. We are all human; it is impossible to always have the answers at all times. Having the right people surrounding us at our table helps us make sure we stay out of embarrassing situations like making our company logo look like a giant dildo.

(It had to be said).

When I see things like this logo above, I usually assume one of three things is true about the person or people behind it:

(A) they operate unilaterally, thinking they have all the answers and not bothering to consult with anyone—wise or not—when making decisions,

(B) they have a council of people they turn to, but those people are childish, immature, or inexperienced and constantly steering them toward unwise choices

(C) they have a council of wise guides around them, but when those wise guides tell them something other than what they want to hear, they ignore them and do what they want to do instead.

In all three cases, the result is the dildo-logo, or something equally ridiculous.

We were intended to have wise council—people at our table who we trust, who know our long-term goals, who have our best interest at heart, and (perhaps most importantly), who are willing to tell us when we’ve had a giant dildo-idea. We are meant to listen with humility to those guides, choosing to hear them even when their advice feels anathema to what our gut says to do. Wise guides can usually think through our problems without emotion or bias—they are able to see around corners we are not able to see because we are entrenched in our feelings, our stubbornness, or our hubris.

This is why it’s so important we carefully cultivate and prune the people at our table—the wise mentors we will depend on to guide us through our big ideas, our difficult decisions, and our important moments. We are entrusting these people with our futures, trusting them not to let us do stupid things like hard-launch a dildo as our logo. We need guides who are wise, mature, safe, and emotionally intelligent. We deserve people who are compassionate, honest, sober-minded, and trustworthy.

In return, we need to be the kind of people who will listen to safe advice and follow its instructions when we hear it. We also need to be the kind of people who eject people from their seats when they show us they lack the traits we need at our table. We can’t afford to have folks who would let us fall on our faces—folks who would steer us toward really stupid and harmful choices because they lack the wisdom to help us find a smarter, less dildo-y option.

Do you have the right guides at your table? Are you surrounded by wise council? If so, are you the kind of person who will listen to the guidance they give you? If the answer to any of those questions is no, it’s time to get to work.

Wise council is a gift. It is what separates us from our foolish choices that will only harm or embarrass us in the end. Listening to these wise guides can be frustrating. It doesn’t feel good to be told to scrap that idea, or bite your tongue, or be patient, or any number of vexing suggestions our guides may give us. But that’s why they’re there: to help us stretch ourselves beyond our self-limiting ideas and impulses, and lead us toward the future that is meant for us.

Are you listening?


Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.

Check out her blog called Compassionate Feminism on Psychology Today to join a feminist conversation centered in openness, empathy, and equity.

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