As you know, I ran a personal finance blog for two years. I created the blog for three reasons: (1) to help people with their finances, (2) to reinforce what I was learning, and (3) to make a living from blogging.
At the start of this blog, I absorbed everything I could on personal finance. I read the classics, Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. I read The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, followed up by Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
I read numerous other books in the following months and had a good grasp on personal finance. I gave advice to anyone who was willing to listen to me.
I would also write 2 posts per week about personal finance topics that I conjured up during the slow work day.
Do THIS, not that
In these posts I would pick an area people struggle with. Then I would tell them what to do.
Save 10% of your income. Open an IRA account. Don’t go into debt. You get the idea…
I felt like an authority. I believed as an authority it was up to me to tell people what to do.
It was all out of the goodness of my heart. Honestly. I didn’t think I was better than anyone. But I expressed what I thought people should do.
This began to trickle into my personal life
I would give advice to my girlfriend. “Do this instead.”
I would give advice to my sister. “Why are you doing it that way? Do it this way.”
I would have arguments with family members. I told them why they were wrong and why they should think about a particular situation differently. I’m not proud of those moments.
I had my view of the world and wanted everyone to conform to that view. Not necessarily in a negative way. It was just how I believed the world should be.
This changed last year
A year ago I became interested Buddhist concepts and philosophies. As I was reading, I came across a quote that stuck with me:
“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”
The Buddha himself essentially told people not to blindly follow what he said. It was his way of saying, try this yourself. If you like it, continue to use it. If not, move on.
And this idea struck a chord. All this time I was telling people what to do, what to think, what to believe.
I had my view of the world and what the right thing to do was. But that wasn’t the right thing to do.
The fault in giving advice
Derek Sivers was interviewed last month on the James Altucher Show. In this podcast, he asked James about how he deals with giving advice.
Derek went on to say that he never knew what to tell someone who came to him seeking advice.
For example, one person wanted to know if they should quit their job to pursue an entrepreneurial venture full-time.
Derek said he wasn’t sure what to tell this person. Should he tell them to quit? Or should he tell them to stick with their current job?
The dilemma caused him to think about the fault in giving advice.
Advice is a double-edged sword
Any advice we give to others is based 100% off our personal life experiences. It’s based off the knowledge and actions we have taken throughout our lives. And it may not always be the best advice.
That’s why it’s not useful to tell someone what to do in their life. Especially if you get into a position where people trust your opinion and will do whatever you tell them.
That’s where I could see Derek’s problem. What if he told them to quit their job and dive in full-time and they failed. Would it be his fault? Not really. But I’m sure he would feel pretty bad.
But what if he told them not to quit, and they never get that fire under their ass to turn their venture into something big. Is that also his fault?
I don’t tell anyone what to do, just what I’ve done
From these experiences, I’ve learned that it’s not my place to tell people what to do.
Even in their articles, I do my best to present to you things that I do that work for me, and encourage you to try them out for yourself. But I refrain from telling you what to do.
And this is where I leave it. “This is what I did in this situation. This is the end result. This is how I feel. Try it out yourself.”
I feel better now, not telling others what to do. I merely make suggestions based off my life experience.
Try this out yourself and see how it makes you feel. If you like it, great! If not, that’s okay too.
Do you ever find yourself telling others what to do? Or do you have others in your life who always seem to have advice for every thing? How does it make you feel?