6 Reasons I Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Write on Self Stairway

Reasons I Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Write on Self Stairway

There’s something that I have been blind to. It’s about time I own up to it.

Lately, I’ve been preachy and I’ve been talking like I know the answer to every question in the universe.

There have been times while I’m writing that I felt like there was something wrong. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was.

Then I realized something.

I’ve been straying away from being open about all my weaknesses and I’ve been talking like I’m the shit. Like I’m the chosen one. Talking as if I had everything figured out and that everyone should read what I have to say.

Maybe not everyone noticed, but I definitely see it now.

I shouldn’t be telling you what to do. There are so many things that I’m still trying to figure out for myself.

I should be sharing my stories of my struggles and how I personally overcame them for myself. But I shouldn’t rub lessons in and pretend I’m enlightened.

It took feedback from some brilliant people who aren’t afraid to provide brutal honesty to open my eyes. Trust me, hearing what I needed to hear wasn’t easy. My heart hurt for a bit, but now I’m a better person because of it.

Let’s go back to my old approach. Back to when I first started this site. I’ll take this site back to stories of my struggles and how I learned to find what works for me.

No more telling. More showing.

I can’t do that unless I remember a few things about myself.

Considering the fact that…

1. I’m only a kid.

Is it crazy to be taking life advice from someone who hasn’t even been on planet Earth for two decades? I’m only 19. I’m not in any position to offer life advice.

There are tons of people with more experience and maybe they’re more “qualified” than I am.

But you know what? Maybe I’m onto a good thing here.

I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people telling me exactly how I helped them. Friends have told me they secretly read my articles because it inspires them. But I’m still worried that I’m not the best person to listen to.

It’s good to know I’m making an impact in others’ lives, but I’m still afraid of the possible consequences.

2. Sometimes I don’t remember who I’m writing for.

Writing feels good. It’s something to look forward to. It’s another world.

Regardless of how it makes me feel, I’ll admit there are times I’ve written about experiences that could have been left out. I wrote them because I couldn’t help but let it be known. It was to feel good about myself. That’s not what I should be doing when I write.

I should be writing because I enjoy the process and because I want to be inspiring others. The stories I tell and the words that bleed out should be out of the intention to motivate. Not preach. Not brag.

I’m writing for both of us. For me and for you.

3. I often forget that being preachy is a turnoff.

No one wants to be preached at by someone who thinks he knows it all. It’s not as powerful as telling a story and letting the reader internalize his or her own meaning.

I’m constantly playing around with the way I write and I strayed far from where I want to be.

I’ll be reminding myself to turn off preach mode every time I write.

4. Being an inspiration for others to change their lives is a huge responsibility.

It’s scary to know that I have a real influence on people. Thousands of people read my writing and I’m responsible for what I put inside their head. There are people who expect me to know what I’m talking about.

What I say is never universal. In fact, it rarely is.

The best I can offer is what works for me. We’re all different.

5. It’s too easy to let the pseudo-fame get into my head.

Having a bit of a following is an exciting thing. I don’t have 1,000,000 followers on Twitter, but this site has some presence.

More often than not, it gets into my head. Sometimes I feel above others even when I know it’s wrong and untrue.

This affects my writing in ways I wish it didn’t. I get cocky. I get careless. I forget that I’m trying to make others want to take action.

This website isn’t a platform for me to show off.

6. I don’t know if I can balance everything I have on my plate.

Someone suggested I hang on a “We’ll be back soon” sign on Self Stairway for the next six months so I can focus on my job with Empire Flippers.

I see his point. I should be focusing on my job, but I can’t hang up a sign on this site. I love it too much.

But I’m scared that I’ll let you all down. I’m afraid that I’ll lose track of time and forget to write every day.

Maybe my quality will go down each article? It’s a possibility that I don’t want to happen.

After all, I’m no superhero. I can’t do everything on my own.

What you do have, though, is my promise that I will try my best to make it work.

Photo Credits: Qfamily – Flickr

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway and founder of Growth Ninja, a digital marketing agency that specializes in Facebook Ads. Voted "Most Guapo" five years in a row (lost during 6th year to a hand model.)

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45 responses to 6 Reasons I Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Write on Self Stairway

  1. It’s easy to see bloggers as people who know what they are talking about. It should be a sign that you are a good writer if people act like you’re the all knowing guru of life!

    It’s also a good sign that you’re worried about coming across as ‘preachy’ as that shows self awareness and without that, well, failure is around the corner.

    I try to counter any potential ‘preachiness’ by using humour and as many examples of how I screwed up as possible. As many famous personal development bloggers have already stated, the audience will relate to you if you show vulnerability and open yourself up.

    • Coming to the conclusion wasn’t all me though. I talked about it at bit no #6 and it was during the same conversation that the issue came up. Either way, I’m glad I’m more aware now so I can be conscious of it. 🙂

  2. Great that you’re being opened about this! I was lately wondering if you were not starting to feel above others- well, you do, but you are AWARE of it, which is what matters!
    Self-awareness is great, and more often than not, people preach and forget to check themselves first. That’s not your case and that makes you even greater Vincent!

  3. Its cool that you’re aware of it as I often get accused of being preachy as well. I used to be a member of a forum for a few years that wasn’t self-help related, but developed a lot of haters because of the way I wrote.

    I suppose most of my writing skill came directly from that forum due to writing on it for so long and developing a very authoritative tone.

    It gave the impression that I was trying to force feed the things I saw as ‘matter of facts’ when in reality, there are many ways to look at things. Life really isn’t as simple as that and rarely is black and white.

    I suppose thats partly the only downside about self-help in that many writers follow other people’s advice and write what’s already popular in the marketplace in order to increase their traffic and readership. In short, they write what their readers want to hear.

    Self-help is really an ‘autobiography’. No one’s journey is ever going to be the same, everyone has different perceptions, backgrounds and ways of looking at things.

    It’s very easy to gain knowledge about something and become an academic without having the real world experience to back it up.

    • Great insight! You’re right, it really is an autobiography. That’s what makes people interested in what you have to say. You don’t have to outright tell people they should be like this or that. Instead, they should read your stories and the lessons should be drawn from your experiences.

      “It’s very easy to gain knowledge about something and become an academic without having the real world experience to back it up.”

      Sometimes objective point of view is better!


    Seriously man. This is what I have come to love in the personal development world. Raw and honest content. No fluff. No false claims. Just true statements about life.

    I’m sure it was fairly nerve-wracking to post this. I’ve literally slept like shit some Sunday nights because I knew I had a seriously transparent post coming out the following day.

    But people are not gurus. We are just people. You’ve evolved and achieved at a level some have not and it would be a travesty to not share your lessons with the world.

    Thanks for opening up brother.

    • That’s what we should be all about, right? 🙂

      Truthfully, I slept like a baby. I let myself get scared of what people will think while I’m writing and publishing. Once it’s out in the world I toss it in the “Things outside my control” bucket and be done with it.

      Here’s to transparency and owning up to our mistakes!

  5. Awesome bro, a few thoughts…

    #1 – yeah you’re a kid but a pretty sharp one, never be afraid to have strong opinions & to air them, just understand the context your experience (or lack thereof) has on said opinions.

    #3 – I can fall into this one as I speak very “authoritatively” and sometimes when I am asking a question it comes off as a command, it is something I have to watch out for also.

    Great to see you think through and write about a conversation you had just a short time ago.

    Action Taking FTW!

  6. You forgot to mention the amazing community who believes and supports you. We’re both in the same position: busy college students with hundreds of opportunities before us.

    If you become overloaded one week, you’re only one email away from a guest post from me. I’m no Vincent Nguyen but I am a Nguyen. 😉

    • I absolutely LOVE this community that came together both on and off this site. It’s amazing to see what people say in the comments and through emails. That’s another reason I can’t hang up a “Be back soon. Gone fishing” sign.

      Thanks for the heads up. I’ll keep that in mind!

  7. Hi Vincent, good to hear from you again! Writing from a perspective of a person in the same struggle helps readers to ‘connect’ with the writer. Hence, I welcome to hear the ‘vulnerable you’.

  8. Part of being a successful person is accepting your shortcomings. Plus if you were perfect I doubt your advise would be relevant to many people. Keep writing man!

  9. Hi Vincent,
    Your articles are inspiring! It is good to hear you reflecting on how you can improve and it always helps to have others feedback. It gives a different perspective on everything and helps us improve.

  10. I believe you are doing just fine, Vincent. I never saw you as com across to harsh. And don’t let anyone put you down because of your youth. You are very observant and you share from your heart. That is valuable.

    Now I am curious about this dream job you’ve found. What kind of work are you doing?

    • No one puts me down because of my age. Actually, it’s the opposite. People encourage me because of the potential they see.

      However, I still try to remind myself that I’m young because perhaps my perspective isn’t best for everyone. Then again, no one idea is universal.

      I’m writing content (blog posts, guest posts,) doing social media voodoo, and all kinds of internet markety magic. Basically, things I already enjoy doing for Self Stairway!

  11. Age is just a way of tracking the number of orbits around the sun, and has nothing to do with experience or wisdom. I have benefited from your writings, and have passed those benefits to others. Thank you for sharing, and exposing yourself to the greater world. We accept you just as you are.

  12. Good post Vincent.

    Definitely an honest one, and what more can you do than just that?

    I think it’s better to accept “harsh realities” ASAP and grow in the long-term than trying to dwell in the illusion of feeling like a badass for a bit longer despite it not feeling congruent to who one is.

    • Great insight there! You’re right. There’s no point in trying to be a badass if it’s not even true of who you are. I’m still struggling with that sometimes but hey, I’m working on it!

  13. Hey Vincent,

    Even as a friend, I am sometimes reluctant to comment. I think that my reluctance comes from the same perspective as this article… I wonder to myself “who am I to give advice?” Even at 3 times your age, I know very little about life…. and less about relationships. Yes, you are young. But you are working like crazy to learn and share. And that is good.

    • The thing about giving advice is that you never know who you’ll resonate with. Sure, I’m scared that my age may be a deterrent for readers, but who cares? Maybe people who are turned off by the idea aren’t my target audience. I often remind myself that what I say does matter to a specific group of people and that’s good enough.

  14. It isn’t so much what you say, but the energy, passion and conviction that comes from it, Vincent. If anyone is that hooked on anyone else for “advice and guidance,” they have bigger problems than you or I are in a position to handle. Rock on!

  15. thanks for sharing, the good, the bad, and the vulnerable! You are brave for doing so and exposing yourself to this judging world. Well played, Vincent, well played!

  16. I have being in your shoes before and in those moments, I just wanted to sell off my blog but that of course wouldn’t have solved the problem.

    The name Vincent Nguyen is a genius in his own way and please never think of leaving this blog behind. Yes, you are human but the most important thing is that your humanity is of an extraordinary nature.

  17. Hey Vincent,
    It’s funny that you mention your writing style has changed recently – I haven’t been following you for all that long, so that’s why I probably didn’t notice. What’s interesting is that I actually went through your recent articles and analysed them last week. I was trying to figure out what made them so good, what made them different from other personal development writing.
    What I realised was that you use your everyday stories of everyday life (pre-Philippines) and make them meaningful. The life you live is conscious – yes you may go to the gym like the rest of us, but you do so with a purpose beyond getting fit. It’s to improve yourself consciously – and then write about it 🙂 You’re always doing something to make life more awesome, keep rocking! 🙂 xxx

    • Maybe I’m just overanalyzing myself because it seems like others don’t notice too much of a change either!

      Wow, I can’t believe you took the time to go through them with an analytical lens. I’m flattered!

      Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

  18. Hi Vincent,
    These confessions are precious. I know it from my owb experience of blogging that choosing the most appropriate tone and keep the audience in mind can be hard like hell. It’s important that you not only think of all these important aspects of your interaction with the audience, but also share them with us, your readers.
    It’s a really inspiring post and I wish you all luck in the world – your life position is really interesting and it deserves to be shared with others.

    • I’ve always had a problem with being conscious of my writing tone. I still remember my high school days when we would learn about tone in writing but we were never properly taught how to use our own. It’s something I’m trying to figure out so I can maintain some consistency. Fun stuff, for sure!

  19. You are a kid, Vincent. When I was your age, I was a kid too. But, you are a far better kid than I ever was.

    Your intentions are good.

    None of us really has anything for others. We each need to figure it out for ourselves. We can only share what has worked or not worked for us. Whether an individual can use any vicarious experience in his or her own life is left up to them.

    “Don’t believe me on anything. Try this out for yourself.” Buddha

  20. Courageous comes to mind. Nobody likes taking criticism, the trick is deal with the truth and leave the rest. Love your honesty

  21. Yeah, I’m guilty of the preach factor too. Big time. Biiiiiiiiiggggg time. C’est la vie . . .

  22. Really interesting… I love the honesty in this post.

    I sometimes feel the same way.

    Sometimes I like to look at it in a way that I’m actually writing to my younger self… what advice am I giving myself 5 years ago? 10 years ago? What is it that could help me?

    Other times it’s a nice way of just getting thoughts down on paper.

    No matter what though, your experience can always be beneficial to others so keep at it! 🙂


    • That’s a great way to think of it! I like Jon Morrow’s approach as well where he imagines a person who is having trouble sleeping at night. He asks himself what’s keeping this person up until 2am thinking and he addresses that issue. Although I think using that too much turns preach mode on a bit too much.

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