How Advice Doesn’t Help and Neither Do Principles Nor Theories

Advice: Don’t solve other people’s problems.

Theory: Solving people’s problems robs them of their opportunity to grow.

Principle: Helping people means giving them the chance to succeed for themselves.

Action: “I can’t do this for you. You can do this and I believe in you.”

There are a few things we can learn by taking the same idea and executing it in different ways.

Advice might be accurate, but it usually doesn’t help unless it’s solicited. Even then, advice is often based on personal experience—so a lot of the time it’s just “here are the numbers I used to win the lottery.”

A theory attempts to be reasonable by sounding like a suggestion when really, most of us are just looking for a direct answer. (Not to be confused with a scientific theory, which is a declaration based on empirical data. The theory of gravity is not a suggestion, people.)

Principles can help guide but they can also be vaguely defined terms because they attempt to span so broadly. They also usually come along with deep seeded spiritual, religious, or political baggage that can create biases in judgment.

Action is what it is.

It walks the walk.


“Just do it.”

“Be the change.”

“First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.”

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

2 Minute Action

What’s a principle, theory or advice you have for someone else?

How might you tell that person to take action?

Well, you can probably guess where I’m going with this.

That’s your action item for today.


“Practice random acts of kindness.”

  • Take 2 minutes to say thank you to a co-worker.
  • Take 2 minutes to leave a positive post-it note on a co-worker’s desk.
  • Take 2 minutes to hide a love note in your partner’s car, backpack, or on their side of the bed.

Being positive and improving takes work every day.

That’s what “practice” means.

Consistent, small, daily effort.

Let’s make it happen!

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