“Life Coaching is BS”
That’s the impression I got from the comments on a friend’s Facebook post. He’d written about being contacted by a young woman who identified herself as a life coach. His statement “no life coach can be 22 years old” got a lot of responses, many funny but a few pointed, even angry. People responded to the age issue and the subject of coaching in general. One said that a 22 year old “could be [a coach] for a 12 year old”. Animals, nature and young children were mentioned as ways to get “life coaching”. Sure, I agree with you, those are wonderful things to pay attention to and learn from! But that’s not what life coaching is.
Then someone asserted “some of the most dysfunctional people I know are life coaches” and stated “doesn’t being a coach usually mean you’ve retired?” They went on to say that a life coach must have been “injured by life… or retired from the sport”. That seemed pretty off-base (but it got a lot of “likes”.) Another bluntly said “I inherently feel that life coaches are bullshit, just another way to cash in on the insecurities of others”. (More likes and replies)
That left me sad, annoyed, and wishing I could have a conversation with them.
I wrote “Well-trained coaches learn methods and skills which can be used by people of any age. A 22 year old could theoretically be a good coach, if they had good self-management, boundaries, patience, insight, focus etc... some kind of maturity... they don't have to have done what a client is working on. If you are a client, you wouldn't be trying to look at your coach as an example of the way to live, but talking to them about how YOU want to live. This is different from other types of coaching (like sports, where it really helps to have the personal experience).”
I added “When I got certified, there were younger people in my class who seemed quite 'good' at helping their clients (who were often older). That said, I think my experience (in life, and as a therapist) does make me a stronger coach overall... And yes, there are hacks of all ages out there who call themselves coaches, but it’s pretty easy to figure out if you’re getting something out of the work – if you’re not, move on!”
How did they respond to my reasoned thinking and personal experience as a coach? I got exactly one “like” - from my friend who originally posted the statement!
I was frustrated by the assumptions, and realized many people think that:
Life coaches tell you how to live your life.
Life coaches have to be an expert in your way of life.
Life coaches will tell you anything to get you to spend money, and don’t care about the value to you.
These three assumptions have nothing to do with coaching as I know it, from my own training and experience. I realize that the term “life coaching” itself sets up some of these beliefs, but the there is a lot more to it than the label implies. If I thought these things were true, I might also have a knee-jerk reaction to the idea of life coaching!
Here’s my approach:
I will not tell you how to live your life. I believe that you know what you want… but you may not be putting enough energy and time into realizing and following through on it. We will identify what you want to change, what you want to keep, and where you want to get to. The answers come from you, not me!
I will not pretend to be an expert on what you do or how you live. I don’t have to have experienced everything you want to do in order to support you in doing it! If I don’t know much about the subject, I will ask you to explain what’s useful to know about the business/ relationship/project you are working on, so that I understand what’s going into your decisions.
I will only work with you in a voluntary, productive, beneficial and agreed-upon partnership. In our conversations, we will identify specific steps towards your goal. I help hold you accountable for the actions. When we talk about insecurities, it’s because the value of overcoming fears in order to make a leap is enormous.
Coaching is to help YOU envision, and then take action towards your own best life – not to imitate mine or anyone else’s!