Have you ever been trapped in giving advice? Have you ever perceived yourself in the Salomon’s role?
It happened to me, because of my past as Police Detective and after my career on the law enforcement as Yoga teacher. Yes, I am not shamed by saying that I found myself to be capable of giving well-reasoned advice to people who were asking to me mentorship and to my students while I was struggling to think rationally about my own problems. Yes, I was smart about other people’s problems but not about my own. It takes courage to say that, but I need to be honest to myself first to be honest to others.
Advice-giving was becoming my own response. Why? Because in giving advice I was creating a short-term win from a personal long term-lost I had. I discovered myself trapped in the Solomon’s paradox.
I had to find a solution to steer myself clear of what Michael Bungay Stanier call “advice trap.”
So, I decided to pause, following what Pema Chodron called the “pause practice”: staying in that space netween stimulus and response where our power to choose our best response dwell.
I decided practicing mindfulness to gain perspective and taking the time to listen other then rush to give advice, moving my focus from the solution that could close my mind to other possibilities. Being less reactive to what was going on around me, creating that tiny pause between stimulus and response that gave to me the time to open myself up to new ideas and innovative solutions that wouldn’t normally leap to my mind. A way to better my growth, a way to better the giving. This is a secret of our life and the more you grow the more you can give.
Not considering that my advices were based on my perspective that provided my own view on the solution I was asked to find, which probably didn’t make for great advice: brains are wired to find patterns based on the default simplest, most familiar answer. It takes time and effort to overcome that pattern. I am working on it, discovering a little more thanks to a daily basis mindfulness practice
My thought is that being the person who has the answer is gratifying, you feel yourself important, a high-status mentor who “knows” in the conversation. It strokes your ego on a deep level.
So when you are asked to find solution, when people come to you because they are seeking guidance and leadership, move from that ego perspective and instead of trying to find a solution, instead of falling down into that advice trap, start asking questions that can open to new possibilities and perspective for both sides, who is asking and who is asked. That process can facilitate your personal growth, for your benefit and, as a consequence, the benefits of the others. Growing and giving, that is the secret of our life.