What you want to do is …


The phrase in the title belongs to one of my older friends. It has been adopted in my family to signal that a piece of well-intentioned advice is about to be dispensed. In our minds, it translates as “What I would do in your situation is …”. It is a shorthand way of saying that we therefore understand that because I am not you, you may choose to do something very different.

There is a lot of advice out there. Just take a look at magazines, websites, Twitter, blogs. A lot of people have an opinion about the ‘ten best ways’ or ‘five top tips’ on just about everything. All it takes is a snappy headline. It’s quite noisy out there.

When people arrive at a point when they would like some coaching, some expect a formula which will quickly solve their problems and make them vanish. An instant fix. A magic bullet. A nugget of advice.

I hate to disappoint, but I have an aversion to advice. What was right for me, may not be right for you. You don’t have my upbringing, my family, my experiences at school or college or work. You don’t have any of my genes (unless you are a long lost identical twin, in which case, hi). You don’t have my personality, my relationships or my love of chocolate. How could I possibly be the ‘expert’ on your life?

I work from the point of view that you know yourself best. Yes, there may be a couple of blindspots here and there, which I may feel obliged to point out to you. There may be a bit of faulty logic going on, which again, I might challenge. Otherwise, you are the expert on you. By giving you some space to think and tap into your own creative resources, you find the answers you need. I just prompt you to find those answers with some nifty questions. Simple.

The only difficult bit is really hearing your own answers and choosing to act upon them. That means changing. Changing old ways of thinking and being and doing and feeling can seem impossible. Which is precisely why you need support through the process.

Susan Scott puts it succinctly in her book Fierce Conversations:

“In its simplest form, a fierce conversation is one in which we come out from behind ourselves into the conversation and make it real.”

Fierce doesn’t mean threatening by the way. It means totally honest. In other words, we need to state what is true for us, and act on it. “What you want to do is …” has no place there.


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