in communication advice profile image for Brendan Caffrey by Brendan Caffrey
All advice is terrible unless it works for you.

All advice is terrible unless it works for you.

I've hit a bit of writer's block on this blog recently.  Or more honestly, I hit a bit of fear.  I have some drafts of posts, some ideas I've noodled on.  But recently I hesitate to post them because of one firmly held belief/instinct I have:  do not argue with strangers on the internet.  I love to exchange ideas.  I love to say "hey this has worked for me, you should try it".  What I loathe is prescriptive posts of you need to X this way or you're doing it wrong.  As a result I've been reluctant to share my experiences and things I've learned.  I've been afraid to be shouted down with "No!  You're wrong!  You don't know what you're talking about."  The hilarity of that notion is two fold - (1)  nobody reads this site anyway and (2) that's not really possible because I'm sharing what's worked for me - maybe it will work for you, maybe it won't.  Your mileage may vary.  

So let this post be a primer for all my past and future postings on the internet.  This one line holds true in all cases I can currently conceive of:  All advice is terrible unless it works for you.

A quick story about running.  Broadly speaking if you want to become a better runner the best way to do that is to run more.  If you run 2 days a week you will improve if you run 3 days a week.  If you run 3 and bump it to 4 you'll get better and so on.  Broadly speaking this is sound advice.  To the question "how do I become a better runner" the answer "run more" is sound advice.  You could go from couch potato to marathon athlete following this advice.  If you currently run 20 miles per week and bump it to 50 next - you will quite likely get injured. There is some small percent of the population who can tolerate a dramatic increase like this.  They will likely see massive gains in fitness.  All advice is terrible unless it works for you.  The key of course is not in the advice - it's in the nuance, the subtlety.  How can I take the advice "run more" and make it work for me and my goals?      

All of my writings should be considered strong opinions weakly held, a concept I first learned about from Jeff Atwood of Stack Overflow fame.  In short - this is my opinion on this topic right now based on my current understandings and experience.  I'd love to hear about different views or experiences and might change my opinion based on future learnings.  I might write or speak passionately about a subject.  But please don't mistake that passion for rigid authority.  Every piece of advice should be taken in the same vein as "run more".  There is always subtlety and nuance.  There are few/no one size fits all answers to anything.

With all this said, I will try to unblock my writers block backlog and publish some more things soon.  Until then remember - my advice is terrible, just like everyone else's.  That is unless, of course, it works for you.    

About the author:

Hello! I'm Brendan Caffrey. A software engineer and leader currently working as Engineering Director @ Litmus where I lead teams making awesome tools for email professionals.