I say this to myself most weeks, normally just before I start a coaching conversation. Before I start coaching someone I get a tension in my stomach, a performance anxiety comes over me. I want to do the best for them, I want them to see me as being helpful, as being a wise benevolent coach. If I am not careful I can end up taking this mindset into the coaching. So I have to do some preparation and the first thing I say to myself is…”if it is not yours to fix, don’t try to fix it!” I remind myself to be in service of them and not my ego. It sounds easy but, it is far from it. The key is remaining curious about their experience, that helps my client to be curious about what is happening to them. I have to check myself so I don’t start to get stuck in the issue with them and try to assess their situation for them. When I remain curious the conversation flows, I do often offer experiences and data that may contribute to their plans but only when asked by the client. This comes when they have been able to explore their own experience.
Now when I have general conversations and they present a problem I find my anxiety and tension raise it’s head and I can start to get into a knowledge battle with them and myself. My righting reflex kicks in and I start to feel anxious about solving their problem. This never ends well, basically I am telling them that I think I am better than them and know how to live their life better than they do. This is utter rubbish and is arrogant. Now I cannot go into coach mode every time I have a conversation but I know what I can do, I can stop talking so much and I don’t just mean outwardly. I can stop talking to myself, assessing their predicament and formulating my well crafted solution to a problem I have very little practical knowledge of, and start really listening to what they have to say. If I care about the person in front of me I should be curious and genuinely interested in their experience, and help them create as clearer a picture of their problem as they can to help them come to a conclusion. They have after all asked me because they think I will be helpful, so the least I can do is give them my full attention, and show sincere fascination in what they have to say. Rather than making statements I try now to ask questions just like I would when I coach that help me understand what is happening. By raising my awareness I help them raise their awareness and maybe see something that they had overlooked. It really does work, it is incredible to witness someone realise what they need to, just by being listened to and you just asking a few curious questions. Next time someone starts to talk to you about a problem rather than offer a solution offer your ears, and be curious, you will find your anxiety about your desire to fix will drift away.