When I was a teenager, I would regularly argue with my parents as Gen X teenagers were wont to do. My favorite thing to yell at the top of my lungs was, "You should stop saying should!" A couple of decades later, I felt a little vindicated by the perfectly titled book by Elle Luna, The Crossroads Between Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion. Ridding my vocabulary of the word "should" is a Herculean effort.
When my first son was born, I was blown away by the number of people who would offer unsolicited parenting advice. The lucrative baby product industry, which has exploded with mompreneur and dadpreneur small business startups in the past couple of decades, relies on our inherent urge to tell people what they should do. The number of product options available to my wife and me was staggering that we would take hours out of our day to research every stroller, infant carrier, and vestibular system stimulator out there. We became very adept at researching.
But ultimately, the amount of time spent on research was wasted. Time is our most precious commodity, and we squandered so much until we settled for shortcuts. It was at this time that we relied instead on a few key people whose opinions we trusted to curate our choices for us. If we were looking in the first place, we would be so much more likely to buy if enough of these key "influencers" had said these six words, : "This is what works for me."
Yes, they are simple words, but they acknowledge an important element of persuasion: nobody wants to be forced or even pushed into doing something. There is a big difference between "I think you should buy this" and "Have you ever considered buying this?" If I admire you, and you are doing something I want to do or have something that I want to have, I will want to know what works for you and hope that it works for me.
And it may not work for me. For instance, I have been on a ketogenic approach to nutrition for about a year, and my levels have stabilized, but others who have tried it have found little success. Dr. Mark Hyman, bestselling author of Eat Fat, Get Thin: Why the Fat We Eat Is the Key to Sustained Weight Loss and Vibrant Health, often speaks of a "patient n=1," even if his bombastic book titles seem to ignore the concept. What this means is that randomized controlled medical studies treat study subjects--individuals--as a monolithic whole, when each of us is unique in such a panoply of physiology, psychology, and sociology that what works for a majority of people will not work for everybody. This is one important reason why providing unsolicited advice doesn't work: the well-meaning adviser already has assumed that what works for one person will work for another. We can only hope that is true in each particular case.
Related: The 2 Word Advice Key to Success
When something that improves my own life can improve those of others, I want to share it with the world. But I would be foolish to think that everything that works for me will work for you.