There are so many “gurus” that think they have the answers to everything. “If only you would do this” or “that’s the thing you need.” They all make one thing abundantly clear: canned answers suck.
They found something that worked for them, and so now it should work for you. These self-help gurus are sure that they have the answer to what ails you. If you just follow their advice you’ll be all set.
Eat more protein. Eat more carbs. Rest more. Work more. Avoid debt. Load up on debt.
There’s so much advice and so many different approaches to what we’re supposed to do. What are we supposed to do? The truth is that canned answers suck, and the best approach is not so easy.
I have a couple friends that live in Arizona. They are often posting on social media about the heat and how to stay cool. Their favorite activities are pools and air conditioning (in Arizona, sitting in front of an air conditioner is often about as active as you want to be).
Yet living in New York, I see that and it doesn’t really ring a bell. For instance, having lived in California, I really enjoyed a good swim, but in New York, it just doesn’t seem worth the trouble.
In fact, as my girlfriend, Cristi and I were walking over the river to my son’s regatta the other day, I saw someone get on a jet ski. The day started out brisk, but had warmed up. I couldn’t help but comment.
“You know, I used to love getting out in the water. I enjoyed cooling off in the pool or in the river. But here in New York, I don’t get it. It’s just so cold so often.”
The two experiences of me in New York and my friends in Arizona are different. If I was talking with them about how to have a good day, I might tell them to get out and enjoy the sun. Whereas this might a good idea on a nice 70 degree (21 Celsius) New York day, it could be cause to end a friendship on a scorching 110 degree (43 Celsius) Arizona afternoon.
This is why canned answers suck. When someone tells you “this is what you should do” without knowing your particular circumstances, it’s probably worth ignoring them. There are some general rules most of us should follow such as exercise and eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables but even those can be bad advice for someone who just had an injury or certain surgeries.
We all have different needs. We all have different experiences. Instead of giving people a canned answer on how they should live their lives, there’s a better approach: listen. Find out what’s going on with them. Understand what they’re dealing with. Often that’s all that’s needed.
But if they do ask for advice, remember – canned answers suck. Give them ideas to help them out with things that will work for them. We all don’t have the same circumstances and experiences, but it would be great if we could all get the understanding we need when we need it.