“Start with a quote” they said. “It will be more interesting, grab their attention faster,” they said.
The mysterious they. Such helpful advice. Or is it? Consider where the advice comes from (any I have given should be included in this). Consider why we go looking for the advice (myself included). We seek out the pearls of wisdom from those that have come before, those who have made the trek through the gauntlet. They must know better.
Absolutely. They absolutely, positively, 100% know better. About the exact situation they are discussing.
They know their position. They know the position that someone has shared with them. It is not a guarantee that the words they share is going to be reflective of any one person’s situation.
You may be wondering where these thoughts are coming from. Why I am pointing out that guidance is not a one sized fits all (especially since I like to think I can provide helpful insight, or … er … lack of a better word, guidance …). Because I believe that even the most well-intentioned advice may lead one down the wrong path, or at least several miles out of the way.
Remember Map Quest … not the current Google Maps, but the old Map Quest directions you would have to print out from the computer that often told you if you went past xyz street you have gone too far (only hours later you come to realize that you most certainly needed to pass that street to get to your final destination)? The company had the best intentions, as a site that touted themselves as an excellent source of maps and driving directions they certainly had nothing to gain by telling someone bad street names. Authors that provide guidance (in any field – writing, technology, art, you name it) have nothing to gain by telling their readers details that skip a few steps, but it’s important to note that they can’t fully comprehend every readers situation. And we shouldn’t expect them to. Because that’s insane.
The expectations we should have is to realize that the author is human (just like us) and as humans they are fallible. They are lacking in the omniscience that is required to document guidance on every level. They are guaranteed to leave something out. Oh. And they speak from a perspective of knowing how it all works. They are no longer the new and unlearned, they can no longer see things from the perspective of those of us that are figuring it all out.
The best people to write a training guide for a new job? The new employee. Why? Because they haven’t gotten settled in to how things work, they don’t know the ins and outs and are not capable of filling in the logic blanks. The new employee sees the gaps and wants to fill them. The master no longer knows there are gaps, they are able to walk through the office blind folded and avoid every desk and out of place shelf.
Be the new employee. Ask the questions. See the gaps.
Read the guides, the authors DO know what they are talking about. Just don’t rely on them as your sole source of information.
What kind of guidance have you come across that left gaps in your knowledge? Feel free to let me know, either in the comments or contact me directly through the contact page or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org