Monday, April 27, 2009

Ask Clarissa

I never set out to be the kind of person who is good at giving advice. And you have to realize there is a difference between being a person who gives good advice and being a person who is good at giving advice.

Think about it.

You could be a wisdom powerhouse but have not one scrap of skill on how to give anyone good advice. I'm sure you've met smart people who have all the answers but who suck at advising people on what to do.

I know I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve been told when I do give someone advice, they never feel stupid. They never feel like they should’ve been able to figure it out on their own. And I guess I’d rather be good at giving advice that may not always be 100% perfect than bad at giving advice. Obviously if you give good advice badly no one will listen to anything you say. If you give mostly good advice, well, eight times out of ten you will have made difference in a person’s life, perhaps for the rest of their life.

Abigail asked Lauren and I last night if we thought she should buy Graham a car. A used one. So he can look for a job. I didn’t answer back with, “Why should a healthy, capable 50-year-old who has struggled all his life to be free of your well-meaning, but back-firing enabling miss out on the joy and challenge of buying his own car?” Instead, I just told her what she really already knew. She wouldn’t asked if she didn’t already know: Buying Graham a car will keep him in poverty – every kind of poverty there is.

“He doesn’t have any money,” Abigail said.

“People with jobs have money.” I said. “And you can’t just give him one of those, either.” Which she already knows.

She asked me how a person without a car can possibly find a job.

“People without cars find jobs all the time. It’s their determination that gets them where they want to go, not four wheels and a steering wheel. You never give Graham any reason to be resolute. About anything.”

Lauren told me later she thought I had told Abigail something she had needed to hear for decades.

Surprised the heck out of me. I wonder how many dunderheads tried to tell Abigail she was totally blowing it with Graham and totally blew it themselves. I wonder if they even bothered.

Almost makes me want to change my major.



Mocha with Linda said...

I've always wondered. . .how old is Abigail?

Susan Meissner said...

Abigial will turn 84 in August!