“I have no advice for you,” is my most often repeated reply to those who ask. But isn’t that what a Professional Life Coach is supposed to do? What do we get in return for our investment of time and energy working with a Coach, if not advice?
We are living through an Advice Epidemic. One scroll through social media and it seems that everyone out there knows “how to” do things and live life more skillfully than you. You should wake up early, meditate, eat keto, follow this guru, and of course, you should coach with me! Someone out there is living their best life and the proof is their ease with telling the rest of us what we should be doing. There are so many “shoulds” coming at us at warp speed, it’s no wonder we keep going back for more.
Their advice somehow carries more weight than our own knowledge, practices and life experience because, well, look how happy they are on Instagram!
Except they’re not.
One thing I know to be 100% true after many years of doing this work professionally, is that each of us is trying to figure it out just like our friends, neighbors and strangers who appear to have done and won life. Self realization, growth, and mastery is a luxury afforded to a minute portion of the human population and only very recently in our history. As Maslow states in his widely accepted Hierarchy of Needs, we first have to satisfy our physiological, safety, belonging, and esteem needs before we can truly explore self realization. Those of us who – through effort, luck, or a combination of the two – have our first 4 needs generally fulfilled are a very small percentage of the population and are far from experts on how to live life. As such, we canthink twice about telling others how to live theirs.
So if we don’t give advice, then what do we do?
Advice is appreciated, helpful, and sometimes life changing for the person receiving it only if they clearly and genuinely ask for it. My young adult clients will often ask for my advice, perhaps because they imagine if I’ve lived through the Mesozoic era, I must know a thing or two about life. However, I won’t respond until I’ve made sure they really want to hear about my experience. Even then, I preface my words by stating that I’m sharing my personal and professional observation of what I’ve seen work best.
There is a time and place for advice but as a culture and community, we have been misusing this privilege. Instead of sharing our observations, we are constantly telling our friends, children, and colleagues what they should be doing. This behavior is diminishing to others, and most importantly, takes away their ability to access their own higher wisdom and reach for solutions that apply to their unique life situation.
Our higher wisdom pulls from our past life experiences, our knowledge, our heart and our gut. No one can do that for us because no one has lived our exact life nor dreamed our exact dreams. This work is ours alone, but we cannot do it alone. That’s where a powerful and committed professional like a Coach, therapist or mentor can be a worthy and life changing partner. One thing that I’ve seen improve any relationship, which you can begin doing immediately – with or without a Coach – is hold back from giving advice, certainly when unsolicited, but even when asked for. Over time, you might find that you are empowering the other person and supporting their growth on a level you never imagined possible.
P.S. I’m committed to sharing my Life Coaching skills and tools out into the world, in the hope that it can help others. If this blog resonates with you, please consider forwarding it to anyone who may benefit from it. If this was forwarded to you, subscribe here.