The Good Advice You Didn’t Take

I am not a fan of most list posts or particularly interested in most posts that offer advice.

That is because list posts are the low hanging fruit of the blogosphere. They are easy to write and tend to generate decent traffic.

The problem is most of the lists aren’t comprehensive or insightful. They are just something someone banged out in a hurry because they wanted to fill some space.

Quite a few of the advice posts I have read follow a basic formula:

  1. Come up with snappy headline.
  2. Generate basic content that offers a basic problem and basic solutions.
  3. Close post with a request for people to subscribe to your newsletter and or follow on social media.

Maybe I am jaded, but consider me underwhelmed by those and overwhelmed by how much content is shoveled into large digital piles on my phone, tablet and desktop.

And that is after a conscious decision to cut out the extraneous stuff that I don’t need, want or use.

Do People Really Use The Advice They Give?

Sometimes I think about the friendly advice I have received from people and scratch my head because it makes little to no sense to me.

“Josh, if you want to become a millionaire you must rid yourself of the fear of failure and become an onion farmer who raises organic chicken. If you do it right you’ll never starve because you’ll always have eggs from your chickens and onions you can use to add flavor to your eggs.

It works. I know this because I read about it in a magazine that was on my airplane seat. This guy in Europe has been doing it for years and you can get in on the ground floor in America.”

Most of the time I’ll ask them if they have tried it out and hear something like this.

“I wouldn’t be any good at doing that kind of thing, but you would. It is right up your alley and besides, I have kids and a family, my responsibilities won’t let me take that risk.”

Sometimes they’ll remember that I have my own family to worry about too and that my responsibilities are just as real, but it is never the same as theirs.

“Trust me, you are in better shape than I am to take this on.”

Most of the time I don’t bother telling them it is ridiculous or talk about how their logic/rationale is skewed here because it is not worth the energy.

If it is really that good they would be doing it too.


One of the biggest challenges of being a grown-up is not letting fear of failure or embarrassment prevent me from trying to be as creative as I was as a kid.

That’s because in many ways we are socialized to be sheeple.

We want to belong to groups, to be trusted and valued members of the teams we work on and to not appear to be the local wingnut.

If you are silent and do what you have to do it’s easier.

Just go along and you’ll get along.

I am at my best when I ignore all that and just follow my mental current up, down, around and through the twisty roads and hurdles I encounter.

Experience has taught me that many times people say no to the questions I ask because of inertia.

They could do something, they could try something but they won’t because it is easier not to.

It is easier to just go along and get along.

But while there is merit to knowing how to go along and get along it also makes sense to shake things up a bit, to ask why and how things happen a certain way.

 whatmight be

They say that life came from the sea but it wasn’t upon boats.

Someone had to look at the water and dream about what opportunities would come if they could travel upon it.

Someone had to spend time trying to build a ship and that led to many people spending time building and revising the model until they got it…right.

I want to be like that first ship builder. Look at the world and see things that might or could be and then figure out how to make them happen.

Doesn’t have to be limited to personal or professional, it just has to be.

Maybe that is why some people talk to me about becoming an onion farmer who also raises organic chicken.

All I know for certain is that when you give me advice, I am always going to want to know if you would use that same advice for your personal situation too.

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  1. Danny Brown January 26, 2016 at 11:29 am

    The funny thing I tend to find about advice posts, mate, is the blogger/author is coming solely from their own point of view. And that makes sense – after all, it’s their experience that’s led to the article in the first place.

    But what about the pig farmer in the Ukraine? What about the slaughterhouse worker in Minsk? What about the rickshaw-pulling driver in Saigon? Are we really to believe that this wondrous piece of advice that will change anybody’s life will work for these guys, or others like them?

    I once got into a back and forth over at a social media blogger’s site, over a post they wrote about Paleo and why we all need to jump on board.
    The “health advice” this idiot was giving out would have been laughable, had it not been so incorrect and downright dangerous.

    We have to be careful, both as bloggers and as readers, when it comes to what we’re creating and what we’re consuming. Listicle posts, sadly, rarely care.

    • Joshua January 26, 2016 at 9:17 pm

      People don’t like leaving their bubbles unless they have to so I wouldn’t expect to find many posts where the writer spent real time thinking about experiences that didn’t mirror their own in some way.

      But I would think that if we/they/I took the time to really look outside of one facet and write about it in a way that touched more it might actually have a shot at being useful to a larger group.

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