Take Your Own Medicine

Every day, no matter your profession or personal dilemma, we give advice to others. It can be something as simple and meaningless as your opinion on whether or not someone’s outfit matches or something as critical as the voice of a safety protocol manager for a power plant, sharing his unique perspective and tips on keeping everyone safe that does not reside in the training manual. I spend my whole day giving advice.

It starts with my children and keeping them safe as well as sharing as much wisdom as I can to allow them to navigate their journey. My wife and I ask each other’s opinions or share how we would deal with a particular situation. I then coach high school football players who receive advice for on field and off field matters from a trusting coach. There are the kids wandering the halls who need help or look lost. The kid who quit yesterday because he felt he was being picked on and I had to pick his spirits up. The parent trainings I implement, the students I teach in graduate school, the clients I serve in my business and the fitness class I teach. The list continues. All day, advice… advice…

Oh, and don’t forget, I have to hear advice provided to me, about me and my work, regardless if solicited or not, warranted or not. Add on social media accounts, videos, and talks, everyone is giving advice on everything, including myself. Hell, I write these articles or post things with sayings to “remind” (really advice) people about their greatness. What gives me the audacity to think I can provide advice to anyone?

I could say it is my life experience, which is more than some people will live in ten lifetimes with all the shit I went through as a child, teen, and young adult. It could be my education and training to the highest degree possible, becoming certified by the state and nationally recognized. It could be that my advice has been effective and actually helped others in the past giving me a track record that speaks for itself. All of these may be legitimate claims but I use none of these measures to answer that question.

This reflection only took me down the rabbit hole for an hour or so, after giving some advice to my middle son and to another child. The advice was very similar with small tweaks for age, behavior, personality, and their specific issue at the time, but generally speaking, it was the same damn advice. After, I thought, do I do what I advise them to do? Do I drink my own Kool-Aid?

You bet your ass I do. Any piece of advice I give I am willing to do or have done myself, in the past, at the current moment, or will do immediately in the future. I then realized my advice is really nothing more than suggestion. I don’t force it down anyone’s throat. I share what has been effective, or not so effective for me, and give people my experience, all of it; the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. From there, I get out of their way.

Most people do not like to be told what to do or how to live. Some seek guidance but at the end of the day, they are the one’s responding, not anyone else. We can manipulate environments and put contingencies in place to increase the probability that some shit will get done but there are no guarantees. What helps? When the person receiving advice knows and sees that the person giving advice, actually embodies what they speak of and will continue whether you follow suit or not. Advice is wisdom shared, sometimes profoundly. Yet, it should only be a suggestion and one that should only be delivered by someone who has been there and done that or missed out on being there or doing that, and who has given the matter of their life serious reflection. Advice is not to be taken lightly, so tread lightly when you give it.