Let me preface this by saying, I love lots of people with divorces and bankruptcies under their belts. Some of my favorite people have been arrested and gone through rehab. Everyone makes mistakes. Lord knows I make plenty. But I know it. The following is about people who are blind to their own faults, people who screw up regularly, often hurting those around them, and then want to give other people advice.
I have two college degrees.
I’ve been married only once, for going on 20 years now.
I have two happy, healthy, well-behaved kids who love me and their father.
I have a nice house in a safe neighborhood.
I’ve never been arrested or had any charges or lawsuits brought against me, including divorce or bankruptcy.
My husband and I are saving up for our kids’ college educations as well as our own retirements.
Am I proud? Well, sure. A little. I’d say about 50% of these achievements came through hard work and thoughtful decision-making.
But I know the other 50% had nothing to do with me. It was a combination of privilege, luck, and help from other people. The fact that I was born to two college-educated, middle-class American professionals who loved each other and their children? That was luck. Because of my privilege as a white, middle-class kid whose parents had been through the university experience, I was able to breeze through school and attain my college education in four years with no debt.
The fact that I fell for a brilliant, hard-working guy who was determined to build a comfortable, loving home for his family? That was mostly luck and some help from a friend who introduced us.
The fact that I’ve never been in any legal trouble? Well, it certainly helps that my parents set great examples for me. That they provided me with everything I needed so I never felt the need to seek acceptance, confirmation, confidence or really anything else in drugs, risky relationships, or other bad choices.
The fact that we have a nice house and some solid investments? Again, help from my parents who paid for most of my college expenses. (And luck, of course. All that could disappear with another nasty financial crash.)
I had help from some good people.
I KNOW from good people.
I take advice from good people – people who know what they’re talking about because they have proven expertise and experience.
So when people with NO such expertise or positive experience give me advice, I bite my tongue. When people with a track record of terrible decision-making try to tell me what decision to make, I often do the opposite of what they’ve suggested. Interestingly, it’s the folks with a long history of failures who seem to want to offer advice most often. I suppose they have to justify all their mistakes somehow; they tell themselves that all these missteps have made them wiser. They, therefore, feel justified in sharing their acquired wisdom.
Except that many of these people often keep making bad choices.
From where I’m sitting, most of them don’t look seem to have learned anything.
I nod and smile. Walk away. I’ll stick with what I know works – thoughtful decision-making, advice from the successful people I trust.
All this to say: consider your source. Always.
You wouldn’t buy a Rolex from a seedy-looking guy in a trenchcoat, right?
Don’t take medical advice from an electrician.
Don’t take legal advice from a plumber.
Don’t take ethics advice from (or vote for!) a guy with multiple bankruptcies, lawsuits, and divorces.
Consider your source.