Advice gets us nowhere, if we don’t really understand it
Have you ever read a book from which you have not learned anything significant from its reading?
A book that despite its much enlightened advice and common sense reflections has left you with nothing memorable in mind?
As if after reading it nothing had barely changed in you, and as if you could have easily done without it?
I, a certain number, unfortunately.
And after carefully comparing, I found a common point to this type of book: they all have a way of giving us advice, believing that they are more knowledgeable than us on certain subjects and therefore tend to explain to us how to do certain things.
Generally, they start from the point where they already know everything to elevate us from where we don’t know anything.
Their intention, of course, is good: it is to provide their readers with as much guidance as possible to guide them on the path to success. They start from the place and time that made them successful and share with us the method that they found essential to their success in retrospect.
But the problem is that what worked for them will not necessarily work for us.
The difficulties we encounter, the objectives and the means we set for ourselves in a situation are never really the same because our starting point is never the same. And at the same time, there are always several possible ways to achieve success and the same tricks can work differently depending on the case.
In other words, the same success can never be repeated.
And so what this kind of books fundamentally fail to teach us is why do this or that, why act and behave in this way in a given situation. What they can’t transmit is a real physical and psychological disposition for improvisation that makes it natural to deal the situation that way. Instead, they simply give us rigid concepts and formulas that are only adapted to one situation.
In short, to reconsider the way books are written, one must return to the essential source of our actions.
Advice gets us nowhere- if we don’t really understand it
At one time in our lives we all have started giving advice to our friends and family about the current conduct of their lives. We all have started explaining to someone what they should avoid doing and what they should do instead.
We were then given him the principle of action that has the best suited us, that has helped us most of the time to get out and overcome bad situations.
But what you and I certainly didn’t realize at the time was that the way we were given him this information prevented him from fully understanding it.
Let me explain myself.
When we give information to someone in the form of advice, we give them the result before the experience that led to that result. We assume that this person has had the same experience and behaves according to the same dispositions as us.
But this is generally not the case, and therefore the advice is heard according to other dispositions more or less adapted to the objective in question. As a result, they are misinterpreted.
The problem behind giving advice is therefore to share an isolated information, without the way of being that gives it meaning.
What I’m getting at is this: each action can only be understood by reference to its author.
Only by really knowing who is behind the action one could really comprehend and take charge of it.
To convey something, each book must embody a man and his story
What we are, our way of being and acting, all this is shaped by the people who once inspired us deeply and that we’ve then admired our whole life.
Our beliefs, desires and actions are born from the imitation of the great men we fundamentally aspire to be.
Idols and models we love contribute to the constitution of what we want to be and therefore of what we are now, of the way we behave and how we confront life.
In the same way, for a book to have an impact on its reader, it should make us feel a fully human authority living within it (that of the author). It should make us experience the unique way of being that gave birth to this book and that still animates its meaning.
Otherwise, your book will remain a dead letter, empty of a presence to imitate, from which one can learn and progress.
But, may you ask, what is this presence like? How could we make it alive through our way of writing books?
This presence consists in the expression of an inner voice speaking for its own story.
It manifests itself through a powerful narrative that takes the reader back to the time when the author had broken out of silence: a dramatic event, an unexpected discovery, or the revelation of a new vision of the world.
For such a voice to be heard, the tone, ideas and manner of the speaker must be consistent with what is being told. We must feel intimately the need for what prompted him to speak aloud, a need that explains how he has come to writing and gives a real credibility to the speech.
That is why the most inspiring books are disjointed essays in the form of letters or intimate conversations where the author shares his life in complicity with his readers (I think of examples as varied as the Boron Letters of Gary C.Halbert, Montaigne’s Essays or the 4-Hour Work Week from Tim Ferris).
In this kind of book, the story of the writer is one with what the writer tells.
Start writing books where you engage your voice and advice will soon be heard.
Whether you write a scientific, business related or even cookery book, in any case your advice will only be heard when you involve your life in what you write.
It gives you credit and foremost strong authority in front of your readers- in fact, who will you believe but the one who lives only for what he writes?
I read too many business and self-improvement books for whom it’s enough to give advice to success without making it personal, to teach us a lesson but without the teacher’s personification.
And obviously no one ever remember anything from them, because no one feels an interaction, no one has the feeling that it is of a human he is reading about, with his particularities and obsessions.
However, when a book gives its own path to success through the example of a lifetime, when the advice is given by a strong voice emerging with a real experience and commitment to its ideas, then the voice itself is enough to have a real impact on its readers.
By doing so, by speaking directly to the heart of your audience, you give us the feeling that you deserve the attention that is paid to you(that we paid to you)- and that’s how the hell of a story begins.