In a Post-Expert world, where does Life Coaching sit?
Who can I trust? Those who claim to know everything or those who are curious about everything?What do I want? Am I committed? Not involved..committed.
What’s the opposite of ‘expert’? Amateur. What does the word ‘amateur’ bring to mind? The Oxford Dictionary of English defines amateur as “a person who engages in a pursuit on an unpaid basis”, as if they are doing it for the love of it. And what do we love doing? What we’re good at. Why? Because we’re good at what we love. QED.
‘Amateur’ comes from the Latin: amat – she or he loves, and www.vocabulary.com attests that “amateur originated as a French word, meaning lover of, not expert”. Trainee life coaches typically offer pro-bono sessions as part of their training, and their websites often claim that they have chosen their career so that they can make a positive difference in people’s lives. Does this then define them as “amateurs” in both senses of the word – lover of and unpaid?
Life coaches don’t purport to be expert – rather they describe themselves as curious.
Their intention being to listen to and, through reflective inquiry, enable their clients to see for themselves their own way of thinking, so that clarity can help them achieve “incredible” and “amazing” breakthroughs to bust the paradigms which keep them trapped.
Is life coaching altruistic?
According to Forbes, life coaching has become “One of the fastest growing six figure careers”. PwC believes the Coaching Industry is the second fastest growing sector in the world. Various sources estimate the market size of the coaching industry at up to $15 billion. Yet it remains unregulated, and despite a plethora of accredited training programs available for life coaching, no certification is required in order to practise.
Whilst those who are familiar with the life coaching industry: coaches; trainers; HR specialists, are fully aware of coaching qualifications, the general public generally don’t even know such credentials exist. They typically don’t even know what life coaching is in essence. So how can the potential coaching client differentiate between the passionate, caring, effective coach and the snake-oil salesman? In truth, the coach/client relationship is just that – a relationship. If the combination of a chemistry/introductory call and the first [often free] coaching session doesn’t tick the boxes – head heart and gut – then walk away, and if no perceived benefits are derived during the first three sessions then terminate the agreement.
By the same token, how does the aspiring coach choose between training diplomas ranging from upwards of $6,000 to $15.99? Particularly when they are told by peers that in specific cases there is hardly any difference in content between the dearest and the cheapest. Like the client, the coach needs to put their trust in gut-feel plus a lot of research. In short, the life coaching industry – while it is potentially both lucrative and legitimized in the corporate sphere – can be something of a minefield for both client and provider due to its relative immaturity and its lack of regulation.
Who can you trust?
Even Marcia Reynolds, former global board chair of ICF [International Coaching Federation], has questioned the received wisdom of coaching practice in the context of “…the focus of learning shifting to the test and away from the client relationship”. She writes in her latest book Coach the Person not the Problem: “ICF efforts to legitimize coaching by making it data-driven often overshadow the intention of coaching.” Although she is “…happy to see that the 2020 updated ICF competencies better reflect the aspirations of the founding members.”
In her article Reinventing Your Career in the Time of Coronavirus, Herminia Ibarra, the Charles Handy Professor of Organizational Behavior at London Business School, suggests one option as “working with a career coach online”, concluding: “In the end, when it comes to reinventing your career in this time of crisis, remember this important point: The time to get going is now — but don’t go it alone”.
Whoever the client chooses, ultimately only they themselves can implement the behavioural changes needed to “maximize their personal and professional potential” [ICF’s definition of coaching].
The rest is relatively simple:
Where am I?
Where do I really want to be?
How can I get there?
Am I committed?
Not involved – committed.
As General Norman Schwarzkopf allegedly said: “Let’s suppose you have a plate of ham and eggs. The chicken is involved, but the pig is committed”.