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Why Do Successful People Give Bad Advice?

September 18, 2018

I once approached a best-selling author at a book signing and asked what her advice was for aspiring authors like myself.


Her pearls of wisdom?


"Write a good book."


Duh! Why didn't I think of that?!


Why is that successful people can't or won't give good advice?


To cite a well-worn example, we've all met tech-savvy people who think like engineers: they're able to solve equations and make gadgets work, but they can't put their expertise in plain language to help others do the same.


And we've all seen platinum-selling singers who can't offer a shred of useful advice when they serve as talent-show judges.


Here are a few of my theories as to why successful people don't always make the best teachers:


Mastering a craft doesn't necessarily make you articulate. Just because you an write well, play a musical instrument or launch a successful business doesn't mean you know how to explain how to do it. I might know how to get somewhere, but that doesn't mean I can give you directions.


Successful people don't have time to reflect. Sometimes successful people are so caught up in maintaining their own careers, they haven't stopped to think about where they've been and how they got there. They don't yet have the perspective to impart any lessons. They can't see the forest for the trees.


Sometimes success is the result of blind luck, of being in the right place at the right time. One lucky break leads to another; one job results in a referral to the next, and so on. The way success unfolds for one person won't necessarily happen to you in the exact same way.


Everybody's path is different...


Chris Bournea is a writer and filmmaker. He is the co-author of "All Jokes Aside: Comedy Is a Phunny Business"  and the novel "The Chloe Chronicles." He also directed the documentary "Lady Wrestler: The Amazing, Untold Story of African-American Women in the Ring."  


Connect with Chris on FacebookTwitter  and Stage 32. 



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