Not too long ago, Seth Godin gave a guy named Austin Kleon a shout out on his blog. Mr. Kleon is an author of a book called Newspaper Blackout, which I have referenced before. I picked the book up over the weekend as motivation to get through Six Sigma, and both books are on The List.
Anyways, on Mr. Kleon’s blog there is a great post which I drew inspiration from. One thing he says is to steal ideas and make them your own, because, after all, there are no truly original ideas. So, here’s to you Mr. Kleon, I’m stealing your idea.
All advice is autobiographical… I mostly agree. I might add the caveat that occasionally it is biographical.
Think about it. When you tell someone what you would do in a given situation… where does that come from? I would bet it comes from your past experience. From your hard-learned lessons and worthwhile undertakings. As Kleon says, you’re essentially talking to some past version of yourself that could have benefitted to such a great extent if you had only known what you know now.
AND on occasion, you recall some sage piece of advice from someone you admire. A parent, a mentor, a significant other. The type of advice that sounded so good you couldn’t help but agreeing, even though you haven’t experienced it for yourself. The beautiful thing about biograpchial advice is the fact that you didn’t have to go through the hard knocks to get to it. There is no past you that should have benefitted from it. The current you IS benefitting from it and you are paying it forward.
So, yes, most advice is autobiographical. And you owe it to others to pass it along and allow them use that piece of advice as biographical advice. And it is equally important to pass along those nuggets that you didn’t have to work quite so hard for.
There is virtue in hard work, but nobody is going to fault you for avoiding unnecessary work. Give advice, take advice. Enjoy life, learn from it, and pass it on. All advice is (auto)biographical.