Five Reasons Why I Don’t Tell People What to Do

My job as a life coach is to empower people to empower themselves to create a great life. I sometimes tell clients I’m their Fairy Godmother, and that I will empower them to empower themselves to make their dreams come true! Everyone loves this idea. And, they really pay attention to our conversations – for some reason, they pay better attention to their Fairy Godmother than they do to their life coach.

When Carmen first started working with me – as her Fairy Godmother, she shared that what she wants to have fun again in her work life and to feel at peace with herself. Over the weeks we’ve been working she really gets the importance of following her own advice.

You see, Carmen is afraid to follow her own wisdom. She is afraid she will disappoint people and that they will reject her. So rather than speaking her truth, she holds back – this is with every person in her life, her mom, her boss, her husband, many of whom could be considered unkind or abusive. In our sessions, it is really clear what actions she needs to take, and yet, she doesn’t take them. Why? Most likely she isn’t quite ready to take that leap into trusting herself.

As our sessions continue, as with most of my clients, Carmen is becoming more ready to make those leaps that are right for her.

Today, Carmen started our session with "Rosie, I have a question for you." I know, in this moment, Carmen will be asking me to give her advice on how to proceed with a certain person. And, guess what? I won’t be telling her what to do. Why?

Here are some reasons why I rarely tell people what to do:

  1. Even when people ask me to tell them what to do, they rarely do it. People spend tons of money on self-help books, but rarely take the advice of the authors. I’ve been told so many times, by people reading my book, "Self-Empowerment 101," how helpful it was, that they read through it and plan on going back and doing the exercises at a later time. Guess what – they never do!
  2. Everyone is different in how they perceive the world. What I think is right to do isn’t necessarily right for them. I’m making assumptions that people are like me, when people are only like themselves – so they need to honor and respect their uniqueness and not rely on other people’s perspective. And, what is really amazing is that people will come up with their own best answers when the time is right. It happens all the time!
  3. Using my position of authority as a teacher, coach, therapist – whatever I am, to tell others how to do what they should do, enables them to perhaps relentlessly disempower their own capacity to make great decisions, while making me feel special and smart! Even though I love it when people tell me how brilliant I am, they aren’t paying me to be smart. They are paying me to empower them into their own brilliance. I’m wasting their money if all I’m doing is telling them how to be smart. It doesn’t work that way!
  4. You can’t learn to really trust yourself if you don’t follow through with decisions you know to be right for you. Self-trust is the least found quality on the planet. Few people truly trust themselves to make the right decisions for themselves. And it isn’t because they have failed. It’s that as a society, we are continually bombarded with media that tells us we need to listen to others for what to do, what to wear, who to date, what to eat, how to make money, on and on and on it goes. Rarely are we told how great we are and that we are doing a good job just being us! So we’ve learned to not listen to ourselves.
  5. Timing is Everything: As I mentioned earlier, for Carmen, maybe the time isn’t right. There is a right timing for everything and everyone. Cultivating one’s capacity to follow through with tough choices can take time. If they try too soon with disappointing results, the judge themselves as a failure. If they follow right timing, the results will most likely be fulfilling, no matter what!

One last thing. Too often, I’m afraid, people who’ve worked with mental health professionals and coaches have reported that they don’t feel heard or listened to. That their coach or therapist tells them what to do, but it doesn’t feel like it’s the right advice for them. If you are looking for support, be clear of what you are looking for. If you want to be told what to do, hire a consultant. If you want to grow yourself up, work through life crisis, or other life issues that are challenging, interview therapists and coaches to find the right fit for you. Why? So you can follow your own wisdom from the very start!

As a Fairy Godmother and coach, empowering people to empower themselves requires me to ask enough questions to elicit the responses that they need to hear themselves say. Then they inevitably know what to do, without being told. They feel brilliant and happy – as they should! And, they are much more likely to follow through with their own advice! It works every time!!

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