You’ll probably hate me a little as you read this, so please do me a favor and read it till the end (otherwise you’ll keep on hating me :))

When I’m doing a ‘Performance Life Coaching’ session, I ask my clients a series of questions to identify their preferred style of leadership. Turns out most of us know what others must do to improve their performance. Apparently, most of us are gifted at “fixing” other people’s problems (or so we believe). I also used to believe this about myself.

I have a very good friend of mine; let’s call him Karl, who’s been going through a bit of tough time. And me being the all knowing wise life coach, I decided that I know what he needs to do; and so I didn’t hesitate in telling him. He listened patiently and seemed to agree with everything I said. But his actions spoke louder than his words, when he didn’t move a muscle following my advice. That upset me a bit because I thought I knew what’s best for my friend and that he should be doing what I suggested as soon as possible in order to get his problems fixed.

Because he’s one of my best friends, I persisted. I told him: “I’m going to nag. Every single day, I’m going to ask you if you’ve done what I told you to. And I’ll keep nagging until you comply.” I know this sounds annoying, but the only reason I chose to do this is because I love this guy and I firmly believed in my advice. If it were someone else I wouldn’t have done that. But his response was: “Not now. The timing isn’t right”. As a life coach, I hear that a LOT. And I’ve always taken it to be an excuse. So I persisted with my nagging some more. Until…

Until I realised I was going WRONG. You see, when I studied Life Coaching in London, one of the main principles our trainers emphasised was ‘Life coaches do not give advice‘. And that’s simply because we can never, EVER know what’s best for the people we’re coaching. It’s them that know the best answers to their situations. And our job is to simply get it out of them.

And now I’m glad my friend didn’t listen to me! Why you ask?


Because not too long ago, another friend of mine, let’s call her Nadia, gave me advice. And even though deep down I knew her advice would back fire, her argument made logical sense so I decided to do what she said. Well, it back fired. And for some time I blamed her for the disastrous consequences that resulted. Then I realised it isn’t her fault really. She was just trying to help and I should take responsibility for listening to her instead of doing what I thought was right. You see, my friend Nadia couldn’t have possibly known what’s best for me, because simply, she’s not me.

Now imagine if the same thing happened with my friend Karl.  Imagine if Karl complied to my nagging and did what I told him, and because I couldn’t possibly know what’s best for Karl, my advice made things worse and I got blamed for it. Not good!

That’s not to say that you, and/or a Life Coach, should never make a suggestion or give advice. There are certain times  and ways when th and where this is appropriate, and actually encouraged. But that’s another separate and advanced topic. If you’d like to learn more about this don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Until next time,

Tarek N

Copyright (c) 2009

Facebook comments:

  1. Vancouver Life Coach
    Vancouver Life Coach10-22-2009

    A good friend of mine once said “Better a bad call then no call at all”

    I think it is ok to make mistakes, at least you are doing something!

    • Tarek

      Agreed! I once heard that “if you don’t make mistakes, you don’t make anything”

      I think that’s a great idea for my next blog. Thanks 😉

  2. Nicole

    Hey Tarek, Thank you for sending me this. I don’t know how to guide people to realize what they need. I just knew from what my friend told me what he should do… I made recommendations and told him to use whichever ones he saw fit. Just like what we were talking about earlier, everyone is different and has different needs/wants. I will take your advice from earlier though, despite your warning here. You are right in that I should follow my bliss and be an example, instead of trying to pull people along. I guess I’m just afraid that Hans won’t come with me. I guess there’s no better time than now to find out, lol. Thanks again. You are an amazing friend.

    • Tarek

      You’re welcome Nicole 🙂 About Hans, you’re absolutely right. The time to find out is NOW. Trust me. I know this from personal experience. Next time we chat remind me to share the story with you. It’s a bit too long and slightly personal to post here.

  3. Aiping Wang
    Aiping Wang07-23-2010

    Dependence on professional counselling for almost all aspects of life, including career, relationships, problems with self confidence, lifestyle related problems and the like have become very common.

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