Tony Blauer introduced this idea to me long ago. It's important, and I realized, while trying to write about something else, that I hadn't written about this here, and needed to (if nothing else, to help clarify some stuff in an upcoming post).
As a coach, particularly when coaching self-defense, I firmly believe that it is not my job to tell you what to do. It is my job to help you see options. I've started trying to apply this in my Muay Thai coaching as well, though there are more times when I will just flat out tell people, particularly those prepping for a competition to definitively do or not do something. But I digress.
I believe that, for self-defense, this concept is hugely important.
Tracy Rose, a Uechi-ryu instructor, apparently once defined self-defense as "not having your life changed for you." Rory quotes that a lot, and I think it's pretty solid. But if that's the case, than I have no more right to change your life than the bad guy does. I can show you ways to change your life, but it is up to you what changes you want to make.
Put another way: there is a very bad platitude out there about weapons defense that goes "there's nothing in your wallet that's worth your life." The platitude is stupid on so many levels that I would need an entire post to dissect it, but for the purposes of this discussion, the relevant one is this: I don't have the right to tell you that. You may believe that there is something in your wallet that IS worth your life, or at least, is worth risking your life to keep. I don't know. And I don't have the right to tell you otherwise.
Tony has a fantastic story about a man who was willing to fight in order to have a cappuccino. I won't spoil the story here (Tony tells it better), but suffice it to say that, in context, it makes perfect sense, and is actually quite touching.
My job is to help you become better, stronger, more capable, and show you how you can use those capacities. But ultimately, the choice is yours, just as it should be.