I received a phone call from an old friend late night on Saturday. He didn’t leave a message so I decided to wait and call him on Sunday, joking that I would be super pumped if he were calling me to say he had an extra ticket to the Bears game.
Turns out he was calling me for advice. He was considering applying for a job and didn’t feel completely confident about it. He said that I always gave him good advice and that I had a really good perspective on things (aww, shucks!). He said he could trust me to be honest and to throw some good ideas his way. While super flattered, I was also a bit hesitant.
I’m always a little nervous about giving advice to people. I want to, but in truth I’m scared that my advice might not be very good, that the ideas I have on a topic might be wrong for that person. I don’t want to throw something out there that might push that person in the wrong direction.
So, instead of trying to tell him to go one way or another, I simply told him to live with no regrets, that, much like auditioning for a show, he had no idea exactly what they were looking for in a candidate and the best he could offer was himself. If he felt like he would look back and wonder “what if”, then he should do it. Even if he didn’t get it, at least he would know.
Basically I told him what I would want to hear.
I think these sorts of situations are sticky. If you tell a person, yes, you should do something, and then it doesn’t work out, they may look to you with frustration. The same thing goes for telling a person not to do something, only for them to find out later that it would have worked out great. On the flip side, if a person is successful, they may throw some undue credit your way when all you did was say, “This seems to be what you want.”
In the end though, I tried to give advice that would be pretty universal and not pinpoint in any one direction, but rather help him to just follow what he wants. Hopefully it all works out for him.