Many things in the world are backwards. Or upside-down. Here is an example: Professional golfers, the best players in the world, never play a round of golf without their personal advisors. Caddies don’t just carry the player’s golf bag; they make suggestions, give advice, and recommend solutions to problems. It seems like anyone who is good enough to earn a living playing golf should be able to figure it all out themselves. That would be a truer test of their golf skill.
Think about what a game like tennis would be like if players had their own personal advisor sitting courtside. After every point each player would go over to their advisor, review the point that was just played and discuss strategy for the next point. A match would take hours and hours. How long does a round of golf take? Hours and hours.
If the best golfers in the world are allowed to walk around with their personal advisor then I, too, should be allowed some help. I’m a poor golfer and I could benefit greatly from playing with a guy who listens to my idea for how to play the next shot and says things like, “That’s a terrible idea!,” and “Are you crazy? You will never pull that off!” Not only should I be able to have a caddy, I should be required to have a caddy. I would do less damage to the golf course, and play much more quickly, not having to spend so long hunting for my ball when an impossible shot goes predictably awry.
Having advisors makes good sense in many situations. Even U.S. Presidents who, with some notable exceptions, are very intelligent have a slew of advisors: the Cabinet. So clearly beneficial are presidential advisors that even the first President, George Washington, had a four-member cabinet, comprising the Attorney General and Secretaries of State, War, and the Treasury. Current Presidents have a fifteen-member cabinet, not to mention the Vice President, a Chief of Staff, and many other high level advisors.
Of course, Presidents should have a cabinet. And so should every one of us. Though it would be amusing for each of us to have advisors with the same expertise as the President, this seems a lot to expect. And many, like the Secretary of Agriculture, don’t make any sense for an individual. What advice would my Secretary of Agriculture give me? I can imagine the advice I might look for from some advisors:
Secretary of the Treasury: You need to be saving more each month and it’s time to start a Roth IRA.
Attorney General: Oh, I wouldn’t do that if I were you. They have guards at every door.
Department of the Interior: Stop obsessing over him. He is just not that into you!
Department of Labor: Look, you have a good job, you like the people you work with, and the economy is tight. Don’t quit your job.
Department of Health and Human Services: Your tongue is blue and your body is green? Yes, go see a doctor!
Department of Housing and Urban Development: If interest rates are low, and you can put 20% down, you should buy.
Department of Transportation: Yes I know your car has 75,000 miles. But it runs fine and it’s paid off.
Department of Education: Stay in school!
Department of Homeland Security: Be sure to lock your doors and if you don’t walk alone in dark places.
This assumes, though, that we have access to people with expertise in each area, and that seems unlikely. What we all really need instead is an informal cabinet of five people whose opinions we value. We shouldn’t make any big life decision without consulting at least three of them, and we should be required to go with the majority opinion. So often we are blinded by love or loyalty or foolish consistency and only when we ask someone outside the situation can we find alternative ways to perceive what’s going on.
The other benefit of having a cabinet is that eventually you won’t even need to ask for their advice. You can be guided simply by thinking WWMCD. And in this way, we carry their advice wherever we go. Now, if only they would carry our golf clubs.