I had a question about adult learning. I called my friend, Greg Ellifritz, and started asking him questions. As we discussed ideas I took notes and continued asking questions. He told me if I had any other questions I could call him. I called him back. I took more notes. I internalized what he said and went about my way to make the adjustments he suggested.

I’ve done the same with other instructors like Chuck Haggard, Kathy Jackson, Todd Green, Paul Sharp, Ernest Langdon, Spencer Keepers, John Hearne and many others.

They are professionals and I view them as such. To ask their advise and not accept what they have to tell me would be a waste of their valuable time and my own.

It would also make me an asshole.

We live in an era of what we perceive to be instant and free information. Because that information is free we put very little value into it. We post our queries on message boards and into facebook groups and recognize that the value of the advice is exactly what we paid for it: nothing!

So it’s very easy to disregard such advice.

In some arena, professional advice is something we still have to pay for.

In order to get feedback on a medical condition we have to make an appointment, drive to our doctor and pay for that doctor’s valuable time and diagnosis. If you posted on a doctor’s facebook page about a medical condition he would also likely tell you that he couldn’t diagnose you without seeing you and to make an appointment. You would likely take him advice more seriously as well because you had to invest time, effort and money into receiving that advice.It wasn’t very long ago that the gun industry was the same way. In order to get the advice of instructors like Chuck Haggard, Tom Givens, Greg Ellifritz, Ken Hackathorn or Dave Spaulding, you had to buy a book or book a class. You had to travel to them and pay to listen to them speak. You had to pay for the opportunity to ask them questions.In the spirit of their own generosity they have made themselves accessible through forums like facebook and discussion boards and email. If they choose to weigh in on topics or answer your questions it is because they are being generous with their valuable expertise and time. It is a gift–a gift of great value.Considering the going price of instruction that these professionals charge, an hour of their time could easily be valued at the same price as an hour at the doctor’s office. They DESERVE the respect of that expertise. Abuse that is abusing them. I implore you all to keep that in mind when people like that weigh in on your questions or agree to speak with you.

Here are some things to consider before you reach other to them:

1. Do not ask for their opinions unless you are willing to put priority into their answers and–at very least–strongly consider what they have to say.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t disagree or can’t do something different than they advise, but it does mean that what they say should hold more weight. If you aren’t willing to put more value into their opinions, don’t ask them.

2. Take notes.

Their advice and time is valuable. Treat it like a prescription and write it down.

3. Ask questions and for further resources.

Make sure you understand what they are saying and why. It’s the best way to maximize the advice they are giving. Asking for books, links or other resources they could recommend on the subject also helps you learn their perspective and better understand their answers.

4.Follow through.

If you’re asking about advice on a gun, get the gun they recommend. If you’re asking about a class recommendation, go to the class. Whatever they tell you to do, give it your best shot. It may not work out perfectly and you may find something better later. It may take you a little while to follow through due to limited resources but don’t waste the gift of advise they gave to you.

5. Find a way to pay them for their time.

Most of them will never ask you for a dime. They will give freely of their time because they are good people who genuinely want to help people. That has opened them up to being abused, mistreated and devalued in the community. The more this happens the less likely they will want to continue helping others (including you) for free. Even if it’s just a heart-felt thank you, do something to show them you appreciate their generosity.

Although, honestly, the best think you can do to show your appreciation is to take their advice and treat it as the valuable resource it is and use it.