Browsing the “Pulse” on LinkedIn I read a number of compelling taglines “recommended” for me. Most of the taglines offered definitive guidance on what to do and what not to do. One article lured readers with the one sign… (you could insert practically anything here) and then actually offered three signs in the article. Others offered eight things that will be sure to make you unhappy. (You could just as easily find an article on the eight things to do to be happy.) Multiple articles explained why your boss does not like you and what should be done about it. And so on.
As you may guess, I am not a proponent of definitive advice, so forgive me for being definitive – you won’t find the “fix”, the insight that will change your life, in an article that offers to definitively tell you some bit of secret information about how to change your life.
Insight, like change, takes time. And even in those moments when an insight does come to us all at once, it often leaves us in not too different a position than we were before. We may resolve to abide by our insight only too often not to. Insight is earned and only results in change through self-reflection and a willingness to own how our behavior contributes to the events in the world around us.
Insight is also personalized. We know from experience that not all bosses are the same. Therefore what one boss may do to indicate we are or are not her favorite employee may be different from another. As with happiness, how could we even create a universal definition to then apply rules to? Being engrossed in career may be happiness for some but misery for another.
Definitive advice is appealing because insight is difficult. Resist the urge to consume it. Invest your time in self-reflection. Only you can answer the questions you most want answers to.