When I was young, my father told me a few things. One of them was to be careful about offering unsolicited advice, since often times I won’t know the whole story. And that’s been true to this day.
Recently, there was a dust-up over a post regarding leaving a job and “burning bridges”. One post spawned numerous others. And I did my part, commenting on a few with my experience regarding the situation. As it often times happens, people disagreed, and thus ensued a back and forth of right and wrong, proper blogging etiquette, and so on. Granted, none of that really matters to me, as I feel people are allowed to do whatever they want with their lives, both on-line and off. And deal with the rewards or consequences that come along with it. Such is life. But another underlying theme arose: what responsibility does one have when giving advice? That thought gave me a “lightbulb” moment, in regards to my writing. While I have a good amount of experience or advice, I’m not really comfortable just putting it out there at will. Why? Because you didn’t ask.
I’ve developed somewhat of a reputation as a “Personal Google” amongst some people I’ve become friends with via places like Twitter and Brazen Careerist. Unlike MySpace and Facebook, these people never knew me beforehand, and only know what they’ve read or seen in a profile page. But as they’d ask a question, I’d give an answer. Mostly tech-related, but also other topics. I’ve also had personal, private conversations with folks who were going through something I had experience with. But those were one-on-one conversations, where my experience or advice was tailored to their specific issue. When I didn’t have an answer, I didn’t respond, or tried to connect them with someone who did. But do I just broadcast out how I think the world should be? No. Think of these scenarios:
- I have experience with Microsoft Windows, but you own a Mac.
- I have experience with managing assets held in a trust, but you don’t have a trust.
- I have experience with owning a home that had a sinkhole in Florida, but you rent an apartment in Chicago
- I have experience dealing with alcoholism and drug abuse, but you’ve never had more than 2 drinks in your life
The list could go on and on. In my 28.5 years on this planet, I’ve experienced a lot of things and met a lot of people. And I’ve always been keen on helping others out when I have the right tools to do it. But beyond that, it simply isn’t my place. That is, unless you ask.