While wading through the weeds this morning I had an opportunity to answer a work-related question for a friend. (Related to my work, that is, not his.) He was glad to have the response, and I was glad to give it.
Some people get frustrated or put out when friends ask work-related questions. I don’t (perhaps because my friends all show discretion and perhaps because I’m just not wired that way). In fact, when I get asked legal questions – even by people I barely know – I’m almost always happy to help when I can.
It reminds me of something my father said a lot before he died.
“In every situation, you’re part of the problem or part of the solution. There is no middle ground. What you have to do is decide which side you want to be on, and do what you can to stay there. Do me a favor – don’t be part of the problem.”
The last sentence, in particular, has stayed with me. Years have passed and I can’t hear Dad’s voice outside my memory any longer, but I can still hear those words as clearly now as the day he said them sitting in a booth at the Broadway Bar & Grill on Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade. The restaurant is also a memory now. In some ways, that seems fitting.
If I have one piece of advice to give you today, it’s this:
“Don’t be part of the problem.”
Don’t withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to give. Don’t even withhold it from the feisty and less-than-deserving if you suffer no loss in the process. Be part of the solution. And if you can’t manage that, at least don’t help the other side.
We’ll all be glad you did.