I want to talk about advice.
I write a blog about my many, many, many flaws and the people who help me figure things out. These people include, but are certainly not limited to, my parents, my brother, former bosses, friends, roommates, and other human beings much smarter than I am.
One day, I hope to write a book about these people, and how they helped guide me over the pasty twenty-seven-plus years.
This post is not about those people.
This is about the people who give bad advice.
In terms of giving advice, there are two types of people: Forest Rangers and Deviators. Your personal Forest Rangers are, presumably, your friends, family, and trusted associates; people who help guide you back to your intended path. Deviators, on the other hand, fling you off your path and watch as you plummet down the Grand Canyon.
I’ve had my fair share of Deviators. Maybe not intentionally, and (hopefully?) not maliciously, these people give the worst advice imaginable. A former coach once told me to lie in a job interview. A former boss told me I should quit my job. On more than one occasion, I’ve been told to lie about my address, employment status, relationship status, and about a dozen other things that, looking back, really don’t make sense.
Evading Deviators requires the simplest, yet most difficult thing you will do in life: You have to trust yourself.
Trusting myself does not come easy for me. Having faith that only I know what is best for me took years of practice. And frankly, I don’t think I’ll ever master it. It actually wasn’t until last week—when I received some perfectly horrid advice—that I realized, “Holy crap! I think I just trusted my gut and was RIGHT about it!”
On this particular day, a particular Deviator told me I should have quit my former job. And, if the situation ever arises again, I should quit my next. She was actually so convinced this was the best, possible solution for me, she all but yelled at me that I needed to go home and reflect on it.
I did. It’s actually really, really hard for me to have a conversation and not reflect on it later.
What she didn’t know, is four years ago, I followed that advice. I quit a job without anything lined up, and regretted it since. Understand this: I do not regret leaving that job. Leaving that job was one of the best things I ever did for myself, and I’m so grateful I left when I did. What I regret, more than anything, is quitting without any intention of what happened next. To me, it was like stepping off the track mid-race without any reason why, other than I could no longer take it. I didn’t have a goal, objective, or purpose; I just threw up my hands and said, “I quit.”
Some people—perhaps, this woman included—are ok with waving the white flag. I’m not. It is in my genetic makeup to finish whatever I start, and when I cross that line I can move to something else. I know this about myself. I know that crossing the finish line, no matter how exhausted and purely wrecked I may be, is the feeling I chase.
Knowing that little fact about myself allowed me to confidently say, “That’s interesting advice, but it’s not for me.”
I trust myself, and know myself enough, to know that quitting is something that will never make me happy. Failing does not bother me. If I try and I fail, I can live with myself. I can’t live with myself when I give up.
Perhaps you’re reading this and want to punch your computer and scream, “NO! You should quit! Follow your passion, always! No matter the cost!” GREAT. This means, that in your particular situation, you know that particular course would make you happy. You know and trust yourself, and that is the only point I am trying to make.
Every day you are going to have half a dozen people try to influence your decisions. What might be horrible advice for me, may be the perfect solution for you. In the end, you have to trust yourself. Know that you, are the only person on the face of planet Earth, that knows what’s best for you.