How To Leave the Land of "How To"

If I told you that I’m not going to tell you how to do something, would you continue to read this piece?  And with that knowledge in mind, would you hire me as a Life Coach?  Would you trust me to help you achieve higher levels of career, relationships, and life satisfaction?  If your answer is a resounding no, then you can save time by not reading any further. If you respond with a hesitant and provisional no, then you’re going to love what I have to share with you.

In a culture that has trained us to look for the quick fix, the latest hack, and the clever shortcut, we have come to believe that a better expert, the latest book, and an online course will finally reveal the answers to our long standing “stuckness”.

How often have we said to ourselves, “When I finish this book, then I’ll start using the information I’ve learned.  When I finish this course, when my kids grow up, when I have more money, then I’ll start that business. When I hire a Life Coach, then I’ll get the advice I need to finally live the life I desire.”  Speaking for myself, this place of gathering information, of passive learning and listening to experts is the mental space I inhabited for a very long time. I talked a good talk - because I had explored and learned about everything that had to do with human potential - but my life did not change; at least not in any that I actually desired.  Everyday, I just put one foot in front of the other and did the same thing I did yesterday.

When I first hired a Coach, I was so excited!  Finally an expert was going to tell me how to do “life” and I would do it right this time.  And if my rebellious side acted up (as it inevitably does) I will remind myself of the strong fees I had invested in this work.  Pen and paper in hand, my Coach and I began our work. Not soon after I stopped talking about all the things I wanted, he asked, “ So Carolyn, tell me, what’s getting in the way?”  My immediate thought was, “What? Who cares what’s getting in the way? Just tell me how to move forward. Isn’t that why I hired you?”

 As an athlete, I was used to coaches giving me a training plan and I would diligently comply (until I didn’t), but this life coaching thing was asking me to actually slow down and enter a very vulnerable place; the land of The Things That Get In The Way.

So many years, and many clients later, I’ve never seen evidence of “How To” working, without talking about the things that get in the way.  I wish there was a quick and dirty way to do the work of getting unstuck, of reaching our goals, and of creating sustainable results. But one thing I know for sure is that acquiring more and more information, education and certifications does not inevitably lead to transformation. What paves the road for transformation and sustainable change is the work of removing the thoughts, beliefs, and habits that get in the way.

My clients are highly intelligent, achievement oriented, kind and loving human beings.  Absolutely nothing is wrong with them. They are perfect the way they are. They don’t “need” coaching.  They “want” coaching in their lives. What sets them apart is that they have made a commitment to being open minded and to exploring the things that get in the way of the blessed, optimum life that deep in their soul, they are confident they can create. They are no longer willing to ignore that small quiet voice that whispers to them, “There’s got to be a better way.”

Together, we figure out the “how to” because creating a clear path to my clients’ life goals is the objective of this work, but first we identify all “the things that get in the way.”  That’s how we make changes that last a lifetime and not just for a day.


Carolyn Mahboubi