Be a guide, not a boss

A sign that says "Don't be a prick"

One of the first lessons I gathered from my coaching mentor:

“People don’t do well with solutions they’ve had little or no part in creating.”

I’ve learned this through experience…

Coaching people who want to make a change. Giving unsolicited advice to friends. Preaching on this blog.

No matter how good your advice is, how useful it is, or how “right” you are…you simply can’t make or force anyone to do, think, or feel a certain way. They have to reach that place on their own.

The solution? Provide people a space for them to explore and make decisions. Listen deeply. Meet people where they are, not where you want them to be.

This is contextual, of course. Sometimes, tough love is needed. When I was in my darkest place, listening to Joe Rogan and having him proverbially grab my shoulders and tell me to get my act together was exactly what I needed.

But I write this in response to what I see so many people doing (including my past self). That is: Feeling frustrated because you’ve given a person the correct answers and they keep doing the same things.

But the correct answer isn’t enough. We all know what simple things we could be doing to be happier, healthier, and more fulfilled. Yet we don’t do them.

Why? Because we have to come up with those answers (and why they’re important) on our own.

In the life coaching sphere, we say, “Coach the person, not the problem.”

We all have similar problems but we differ in how we see them and how they’re impacting us.

It’s hard work, but we must be a guide, not a boss, if we want to bring about change.

A guide helps people maneuver through places they want to go. A boss tells people where to go.

You’re nobody’s boss. But you could be a guide to anyone.