Pretending to know the answers or just making it up works for a little while. It is fun to see a child do it. They nervously move, look at their hands, and then a fantastic story comes spewing out of their mouth that contradicts reality.
When we try to make sense of reality based on our imagination we fill in the gaps we don’t know. Those gaps will either make us look like fools or they will pass on wrong information. When a child fills in the gap we know they don’t know and they are just making sense of the world and putting it together in a story. When an adult does it they become a liar and an invalid source of information.
Now let’s play:
If you succeed and don’t know what the contributing factors to your success were, should you give others advice on how to succeed?
If you failed and know exactly why, should you caution someone else about the failures they might experience?
If you are an accountant and understand what you can and cannot write off as a tax deduction should you advise someone on a purchase for their business?
If you were born into a rich family and were handed all the opportunities to succeed should you tell someone else how to get themselves out of poverty?
Should a millionaire take advice from someone with an MBA who is looking for a job?
None of the above are a yes, no answer. The situations lack enough story, they lack information in context to reality, they only reveal our prejudice when it comes to what advice we want and who we will take it from. Just like the people who say I only take advice from someone who did it, what they fail to understand is experiential knowledge is just as limited as intellectual knowledge. If Shaq gave Kevin Hart advice on playing basketball it wouldn’t work for Kevin. Albert Einstein is quoted a lot but never became a millionaire. He didn’t run a business yet his quotes can be found in a business context.
I have avoided many arguments lately because I know when I do not have enough information to make a point. I just sit in silence, knowing someone can speak their mind, and it won’t change mine. They can have their opinion, and if you don’t feed it they run out. If they are just talking and trying to prove their point they will eventually sound like a little kid. Reality will contradict their statement. But you will only know it if you have the right (real) information.
It is hard to do sometimes, but don’t fill in the gap with a “this could have been” and just find out what is.