What's Wrong with Life Coaching

WARNING: truth coming.


Before we begin, take note. Our title for today is not in the form of a question. It's a statement.

PREVIEW: "The life coaching industry made it impossible to see why the average person, literally everyone for that matter, needs a coach."

Let's get started.


When life coaching became a thing in the early 1990s, people thought it was weird. Loose. Subjective. Unorganized. And they were right. There wasn't a governing board (in fact, there still isn't), and there wasn't an academic discipline dedicated to writing rules and procedures for what life coaching is and how it should operate. Maybe in one way, that was a good thing. But in another, it was not good at all. And here's why.


You see, anyone could do it. Anyone could be a coach. And just about anyone who thought they had a good enough reason to be a coach tried it out. Most failed, and a few "succeeded."


Today, things aren't much different. Anyone can still do it. Not much has changed. Many people, an increasingly numerous group of opinion-offerers, think they can be life coaches, career coaches, or executive coaches. Newsflash: almost all are ill-equipped to do the real work. Their certifications are proxies for false-standards, and their philosophies and social media sites deprive us of real, truth-based substance. To the point, I have yet to find a life coach whose philosophy and approach make sense in light of our modern, human experience. It's for the most part, a complete farce.


Wow! Harsh.


Don't worry, this harsh analysis isn't just attention-grabby polemical theatrics. It's real truth that I will, overtime, completely back-up with even more truth.


But for now, let's continue down the current path.


This overall life coaching situation produced what is not only a historic, reputation-building problem, but also a very serious quality problem as well. As a result, life coaching's got a stigma. And many people feel it's not for them.


Honestly, I can't blame them.


Poor quality. Bad philosophies. Bad approaches. Bad websites. Bad messages. Even some bad people doing it. No wonder why there's a stigma.


But that's not all. Let's go deeper.


In light of the way life coaching rolled out, who was doing it, and what they were doing, life coaching attracted a certain type of customer. Now keep in mind, this has changed over time to a degree. After all, our world and its access to opinions has changed. But overall, the customer remained fairly constant over the years.


White. Wealthy. Accomplished. Stay at home moms hoping to earn some side cash. Accomplished career men going through mid-life crises. This about sums up the average life coach customer.


Though I'm glad these folks are getting coached, this is a completely unsatisfactory result of coaching efforts.


Even one of my closest friends who knows little of the coaching world knew this much. He said, "Life coaching is specifically for rich, baby boomers going through mid-life crises; or women." Although couched in a rather facetious tone, his thoughts were pretty accurate. Well, wrong but accurate.


He was accurate in the sense that men of a certain age who had the money and the time to look for emotional support during a key transitional life phase and women of various contexts who felt like coaching was a way to work through tough life situations or get a leg up characterized the majority of life coaching clients. It still does. These people weren't wrong for buying into the hype, but many if not most ended up disappointed with their results. My friend understood this much.


But his characterization of who needed coaching was completely wrong. His customer profile showed who had been buying coaching historically, not who actually should be buying coaching.


And this friend of mine, you should understand, he's one of the smartest people I know. He's talented. Entrepreneurial. A leader. He can do a lot on his own. In fact, I'd say better than 99% of people.


Even he missed the point.


But why he missed the point is the topic of this post. Life coaching made him think it. The life coaching industry made it impossible to see why the average person, literally everyone for that matter, needs a coach. They didn't get it, and they still don't.


No wonder that approximately 14% of folks have not been coached. And that number is likely very inaccurate, so I won't even suggest where it came from. But what's significant is that you've got all these people trying to be coaches, doing it poorly, for the wrong reasons, with the wrong philosophies, and only attracting a small portion of the population. Sign of a stigma? Yep. Absolutely.


Now, I won't be able to cover all contributing factors to this stigma in one post. It will take time to explain. And as my wife put it, "You're going to need to educate an entire culture on the basis for its misunderstanding of life coaching and coaching in general." She's right.


So, to finish off this post, let me show you one other problem with life coaching besides quality. It's likely one of the top reasons you haven't been coached yet.


Money.


When I first began building the model for Findlife Coaching, I looked up a popular coach training site that advertised something that blew me away. They said their goal was to train coaches to improve their skills to the point where they could charge their customers "premium prices."


And in case you breezed over that last point: coach trainers built businesses to make money from teaching people to get better for the reason of making more money! That was the goal. Articulated. Clear as a bell. And if you think it's just one business that's complicit in this semi-intellectual scheme, you'd be wrong. Anyone who charges too much money for their training or their coaching is just more beer in the barrel.


Not only is this hypocritical and misguided, it's totally backwards. Life coaching should be more about helping people achieve more in their lives, not about making more money. Sadly, nobody's pinned this one down yet. An over-zealousness for making money has plagued the life coaching industry, and it's kept many people who desperately need help and transformation from believing they stand to benefit from the work it does.


Think about it, if you need an example. Executive coaches are a perfect example of all that's wrong with the cost for coaching. Their "argument" is that they can charge you more money because their advice is worth more, since it operates on a higher, more consequential level. Well, tell that to the struggling, uneducated immigrant trying to find a $30k/year job that will put barely enough food on the table for their malnourished family.


Who needs more help? The immigrant or the executive? For whom is the help worth more? Whose transformation is more incredible, worthwhile, impressive, and important? To be quite frank with you, those are difficult questions to answer. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't work hard to answer them. Without much thought, it's easy to realize that the executive who's already "made it" and matured in their work and personal process would likely only make marginal gains from any given coach's insight. The immigrant, however, stands to gain an entire life of critical needs.


But weighing the two is hard. So, satisfactorily answering those specific questions will have to wait for another time. But let me make something clear that we can gain by a glance at this issue: aiming to charge more to the few rather then less to the many who need it, the coaching industry ruined its prospects. Ruined its reputation. Ruined its potential.


This much is obvious.


Spending its time coming up with clever phrases and sales gimmicks to make more money, the coaching industry spent a ton of time on the wrong things. Things that left life change, real people with real decisions to make, desperate for something better.


And they now don't know who to turn to. They don't know who they can trust. Many just throw their hands up in the air and say, "I'll just figure it out myself."


This isn't right. It's not how life was meant to be lived.


So, I decided enough's enough. Findlife Coaching rights the ship. We do it different. And I'm excited to take the time to show you why and how we do it.


Even more, I can't wait to coach you the way you were meant to be coached. Help you live the life you were meant to live. Be the person you were meant to be.


-Tom



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