I love puzzles. I love finding pieces to puzzles. I love the preciseness of each piece fitting perfectly together to form a larger picture. Explains a lot about my chosen profession, right? Except, I have had to learn how NOT to find the pieces for other people. I can assist and guide my students and clients in finding their edges, but ultimately, I must recognize that it's up to them. They are on their own path, their own journey.
Very simply: People are not here to be fixed. It's the #1 coveted rule in life coaching, and it took a lot of awareness on my part to truly embrace it, mainly because I was so caught up in what I thought was the better solution and what I wanted the result to be. And I got so frustrated when MY solutions wouldn't work for other people, not realizing that it's not about me!
Our intentions are decent. We think, "I'm just trying to help." We offer advice, but then that often turns in to nitpicking, which then turns in to micromanaging. Soon enough, we're trying to solve someone else's problem, take control, or even do it for him/her.
If asked for advice, we can offer it. If we know of an easier route, let's suggest it. If we have valuable resources that would assist people in their journey, we can certainly show them. But we must be very cautious about confusing facilitating with fixing:
- Listening--really listening--to what the person needs
- Supporting her, even when you don't agree with her approach
- Allowing him to fail, even when you know it could hurt him
- Asking How? and Why? instead of sayingHow? and Why? it should be done
- Modeling the behavior or action desired
- Keeping your mouth shut, even when you think you have the answer
Ouch. That last one was pretty tough. But, let's be real: People are not fixer-upper's! They're not run-down houses that with new floorboards, some paint, and proper electrical wiring can be made over. They are human beings. They--like you--have all of the necessary resources within to make their lives happen. And if we truly desire the best for them, we need to trust that they have the ability to figure it out. Want to truly help people you love? Allow them to engage in life's process, discover their own path, and find their own way.