So, I received a private message on Facebook from a gentleman asking, “What qualifies you to give advice on life to anyone?” I had to think about this. It’s a good question. I found myself wondering if he has a point? What DOES qualify me to give advice on anything to anyone? For that matter, what qualifies me to teach anyone anything as well?
The answers become obvious after a while.
First, if we require proof of qualification to teach anything… to give advice… to mentor, coach, guide, counsel, etc. then nothing may ever get passed on to the next generation(s). After all, when was the last time anyone checked a person’s qualifications before allowing them to be a parent? Older sibling? Friend? Relative? Think about it.
Second, proof is in the result(s): As a parent I considered myself qualified from the moment I discovered my wife had conceived. Am I the perfect parent? Far from it. But I’ve got adult age children who are all contributing members of society, non-criminal, non-drug-users, non-alcoholics… and two of them are parents doing a good job of raising their own families.
As a human being I consider myself a reasonable success. I’m no millionaire, but the accumulation of wealth is not the only measure of successful adulthood (although many people act as if it is). I am healthy. My family is cared for. My bills are paid. I am employed. I offer assistance to others when I can. I do my best to be self-reliant. To me these are all measures of being a successful adult. (I’ll not go into emotional and mental stability simply because what I find to be “stable” others might find to be less so.)
Third, when people turn to you for advice, it tends to be proof that your opinion is, for whatever reason, valued. In my life I have had a profession that forced me to act as counselor, coach, referee, warrior, chaplain and more. For friends I have certainly been a confidant, counselor, chaplain, sometimes coach, sometimes mentor, sometimes… a listening ear with nothing to give but a few minutes of my time and some follow on sympathy. Due to this experience in life, all the experiences my past has brought me, I might have learned a few things that others could see as valuable. Apparently they do as I’ve had a great many of them ask me what I’ve learned; another form of asking for my opinion or advice.
I am not a person who identifies a problem and doesn’t try to find a solution for it. Those folks who do nothing but complain about everything they find wrong with each day, but then never undertake any action to improve their condition, bother me. They are the folks who are never satisfied unless they have something to complain about. WHAT they complain about may change from moment to moment or day to day, but the fact that they always complain never seems to change. I find it irksome.
So, what qualifies me to give advice on life to anyone? Not a damned thing beyond the fact of my own existence; the challenges I’ve overcome (some of which I created through my own mistakes, but don’t we all?); the children I’ve raised; the jobs I’ve successfully held; the sheer reality that I have never let life beat me down and I never will.
I have a great many friends who are true (literal) warriors; men and women who have seen combat and faced the storm. I am blessed to call them friend and I try to learn from them. WHAT I learn from them can be passed on. But not all “warriors” fight other people. Sometimes we fight our own inner demons or the circumstances of life. The warrior is one who never lets his enemy – no matter the source or form – defeat him. The warrior stands tall every day and takes whatever comes his way… and then adjusts to move forward and accomplish his goal, even if that goal is simply to make it through the day.
Do I give advice on life to people? I offer observations and (sometimes) guidance. I don’t do it to “lead” people. I do it in the hopes that I improve someone’s day AND I find another warrior to stand beside me moving forward through each day. The larger the army, the easier the enemy is defeated. I look forward to a future when the army of optimists and positive thinkers is so vast that no problem can stand against us.