One crisp morning in Hong Kong, the city was just waking up to its usual symphony of bustling streets. I had just left my hotel, crossing the street to grab breakfast. The city’s energy was infectious, but I was in my own little world, thinking about the day ahead. As I walked back to the hotel, a venti latte warming in my right hand and a tuna sandwich in my left, life seemed straightforward and simple. That was until I reached the traffic light. 

Lost Lady Seeks Directional Help

There, amidst the morning crowd, a woman approached me. She looked slightly lost, her eyes searching for something familiar in the busy streets of Hong Kong. Then she asked me for directions, unknowingly setting the stage for a lesson I wouldn’t soon forget.

The lady, clad in black, approached me with a sense of urgency. “Which way to this place?” she inquired, her finger hovering over a location on her Google map displayed on her smartphone. I peered at the screen, not entirely sure of the answer. “Do you know where we are on the map?” I asked, hoping to gain some clarity.

Tourist’s Dilemma: Right or Left?

“Here,” she responded, pointing to our current location on the digital map. With a quick assessment, I replied, “Oh, it’s that way,” pointing confidently to the left. She seemed sceptical, her finger hesitantly moving in the opposite direction. “Not that way?” she questioned, her doubt evident.

“I think it is that way,” I reiterated, pointing again to the left, trying to mask my uncertainty with confidence. She nodded, thanked me, and hurried off in the direction I had indicated, trusting my guidance amidst the sprawling streets of Hong Kong. Little did I know that this brief encounter would soon reveal a significant lesson.

As soon as she thanked me, the lady dashed off in my indicated direction, disappearing into the crowd. It was only after we had parted ways, heading in opposite directions, that a sudden realization dawned on me. I paused, looking down at the map on her phone, which was still vivid in my memory. At that moment, the streets and landmarks clicked into place in my mind, and I understood with a sinking feeling – I had pointed her the wrong way. Her actual destination wasn’t the path I had confidently directed her to. It was, in fact, along my route, right beside my hotel. This realization hit me with a mix of guilt and irony. She should have been walking with me all along.

Guilt from a Misguided Gesture

A wave of guilt washed over me as I continued my walk. I couldn’t shake off the feeling of having misled someone, albeit unintentionally. I blamed myself for the overconfidence I had displayed. There I was, a stranger in Hong Kong, acting like a local guide when in reality, my certainty was based solely on her map – a map I barely understood.

To lighten my spirits, I tried to joke with myself. Surely, she would find her way eventually. After all, how can anyone truly get lost in a city like this, equipped with a digital map on a smartphone with GPS and surrounded by a sea of helpful pedestrians? I reassured myself that she would only need to walk a few meters, watch her position shift on the map, and she’d be back on track. But deep down, I knew it wasn’t just about finding the right street or building. It was about the trust she placed in a stranger’s guidance and how easily that could be misplaced.

Lessons from a Stranger’s Trust

This incident turned out to be a valuable lesson, both for the lady and for me. It highlighted the importance of seeking guidance from those who truly know. In her haste, the lady had asked the wrong person – me, a tourist, not a local familiar with the intricate lanes and alleys of Hong Kong. Yet, perhaps it was my fault too. My reaction, exuding a misplaced confidence, might have given her the wrong impression. I projected the aura of someone who knew the city well, inadvertently positioning myself as a local expert in her eyes. She believed what I said, placing her trust in a stranger who, in reality, was as lost as she was. This realization was a humbling reminder of the responsibility that comes with the trust others place in us, no matter how momentary the interaction might be.

Advising Others: The Responsibility

Reflecting on the incident, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of responsibility for her lost time and potential missed appointment. I had given her the wrong advice, and the consequences were not just a longer walk or a momentary confusion, but potentially more significant impacts on her day. As someone who was not an expert, not a local, I should have been upfront about it. I should have advised her to ask someone else, someone more certain of their directions in this bustling city. Admitting “I’m not sure” would have been far more helpful than confidently pointing her in the wrong direction.

This experience underscored a broader lesson about the value of seeking advice from true experts. It’s crucial to consider how these experts are incentivized to give their advice. Is there a potential conflict of interest? For instance, when you ask an insurance agent about how much insurance to buy, remember they are often paid commissions. Their advice, while valuable, may also be influenced by their own financial incentives. This doesn’t invalidate their guidance, but it’s an important factor to consider. Just like in seeking directions in a foreign city, in matters of finance or health, it’s essential to understand the motivations behind the advice we receive.

Expert Advice or Misinformed Guidance?

Another vital lesson emerged from this experience: the importance of seeking multiple perspectives, especially when uncertain. Often, people are well-intentioned in their advice, but good intentions don’t always equate to accuracy or suitability. Just as in my case, where my misguided direction was not borne out of malice but rather a misplaced confidence, others too might lead you astray without meaning to.

This principle holds true in more critical scenarios as well. Take, for instance, a diagnosis of a serious illness. It’s prudent not just to rely on one doctor’s opinion. Seeking a second, even a third opinion, exploring alternative treatments, and researching extensively can be life-altering. Blind trust, even in experts, can be risky. Due diligence is key. Gather as much information as possible, weigh your options, and then make an informed decision. This approach not only applies to navigating through unfamiliar streets but also to making significant life choices, be it in health, finance, or any other critical aspect of life.

Personal Growth from Past Mistakes

In the wake of this humbling experience, I’ve set a personal goal to do better, not just in everyday interactions but also in my journey of growing my financial education business. I aim to genuinely make a positive impact on your lives, especially for those struggling financially. For individuals drowning in debt, I’ve even introduced a free program called ‘Debt Domination‘, offering RM100 to those who complete it as a token of encouragement. 

I am only human, prone to mistakes, just like that morning in Hong Kong. If you ever find anything amiss in my advice or programs, I sincerely appreciate your feedback and corrections. I hope the lady I inadvertently misguided doesn’t hold a grudge for my misdirection. Truthfully, I wouldn’t even recognize her if our paths crossed again. But what’s most important is the lesson learned from that encounter – to acknowledge our limitations, seek expertise when needed, and most importantly, to ensure that such mistakes are not repeated with others. 


KCLau
KCLau

Personal finance author and trainer

    2 replies to "The Misguided Guide and Good Intentions Gone Wrong"

    • SY

      sometimes I am doubt if its wrong to allocate the epf acc 2 to those fund, while it’s actually making loss for few years. Hmm, now I wonder if those advisor are competent.

      • KCLau

        It could be a misguided guide.

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