As a consultant for more than 15 years, I have loved working with my clients advising them how to manage their image, careers, and brand. I worked through workshops, consulting and training – but, somewhere in all that advising, lurked a thought: “Is it making a difference”? “Am I helping the client build the capacity to change?”
Recently, I also noticed, that I did not enjoy this prescriptive way of advising an individual and directing them with “do’s and dont’s”. That’s when I stumbled upon coaching as a career option. Difference being, a consultant is more like an advisor, and a coach is like a partner — I knew it was time for me to move over.
I joined an official ICF coach training program to help me make the transition and get professionally certified. As I immersed in the training…
Within the first few sessions, I caught a pattern that was disrupting my coaching sessions. When my coachees would state their problem, “Pop!” came the solution into my head and “Out!” came the advice. I had this deeply ingrained habit to respond to situations with advice, solutions, and suggestions (maybe a hangover of my consulting days!)
I soon realized, that, as a part of my coaching journey, there was a huge amount of unlearning to be done — I had to tame what I now call the ‘advice monster.’
My first lesson was to become aware of when I start giving advice and then try to restrain myself. Sure, I got aware, but that did not stop the advice monster. I caught it only ‘after’ it had struck.
My next learning came from “Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, my reading assignment. I understood the habit wheel – a Cue-Routine-Rewards routine triggered by a craving. I tried being the ‘fly on the wall’ to catch the ‘cue’… but somehow would ‘just miss it’ and let the advice-monster out.
Then, during one of the classroom practice sessions, my mentor help locate the moment, I went into the advice mode. We did a rewind and got in touch with what I was feeling ‘just before’ that moment. He helped me realize, that instead of listening in the moment, I was developing answers in my head. He asked me to substitute that with curiosity and ask a simple question.
With practice, I got better and stopped giving direct advice, but then occasionally the advice monster surfaced in the form of ‘leading questions’.
More classroom practice and reading assignments, “Appreciative Inquiry”, “The Biology of Belief” by Bruce Lipton and Marshall Goldsmith’s “Triggers’’, finally made me shout out, “It’s the environment, stupid!”
I was ‘entering’ into the session like a consultant, ready to ‘solve the problem’ of the person sitting in front of me… and “boom!” my subconscious “advisor” avatar would get triggered and takeover.
With these insights, I have now consciously slowed down and started embodying questions, curiosity, and coaching as a behavior trait. It is slowly helping me keep the advice monster at bay and questioning to happen more effortlessly.
I see this as my opportunity to grow as an individual, discover my unique style and walk my path towards success
Renuka Tandon provides Executive Coaching, in the area of Executive Presence and Career-Brand Alignment to corporate executives and entrepreneurs. She takes an inside-out, appreciative, and alignment approach to how career and business vision is pursued. Renuka has 15+ years of past experience, as Founder of ACE impression – Image Consulting & Personal Branding, and Director at TanNet Technology Resources Pvt Ltd – IT Placement and Career Consulting. Connect with Renuka on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/renukat/