Life Coaching Is for Losers

Anyone who hires a coach must be deficient in some way, right?

They lack willpower and motivation. Or they don’t have a support network (family, friends, associates) to help them. Or they are weak or “broken.”

In essence, they must be a real loser if they need a coach, right? Because we all know that successful people are independent. If you’re worth your salt, you should be able to do anything you want all by yourself, right?

I’m being obnoxious to make a point. Unfortunately many of us do operate from this skewed perspective, though to a lesser degree. When I tell people that I have a coach, they often look at me funny. “Curtis, you’re one of the most motivated people I know. Why do you need a coach?” Now, that sounds like a compliment, right? But it’s really a way of saying, “What the heck is wrong with you that you need a coach?”

You see, we are taught the value of independence from an early age, or so we think. In fact, what we are being taught is responsibility, but we confuse that with independence. Yes, your personal responsibility is ultimately yours and yours alone, and that’s why we confuse the two. But personal responsibility also includes learning the value of interdependence.

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey teaches that there is a natural progression from dependence to independence to interdependence. He calls this the Maturity Continuum. A truly responsible, mature, and proactive person recognizes that an effective partnership can achieve much more than the individuals can working separately. It’s the idea that one plus one equals ten.

And therein lies the value of coaching. Coaching is about creating a powerful synergy between coach and client, not about one person “fixing” another person.

Some people hire a coach when they need help with something specific. In that way, a coach is like a lawyer or a therapist or a doctor. The client is facing a challenge and seeks help to overcome it.

For example, I ask Steve to rate his level of passion in life on a scale from 1 (he doesn’t want to get out of bed in the morning) to 10 (he leaps out of bed before the alarm goes off, raring to go). He says he’s at a 7. Things are going well, but he’s struggling in a few areas. He has a few unhealthy habits he’s been unable to break. He feels like he doesn’t spend as much time with his kids as he’d like. A raise would be nice. But he likes his job and his marriage is good. I ask him where he would like to be on that scale from 1 to 10. He says, “A ten, of course!” As his coach, I help him define exactly what a 10 is for him, and then we create a strategy to get there.

But some people hire a coach even when they are at the top of their game, because they know that no matter how successful they are, a coach can push them even further. That’s why the best athletes have coaches and trainers; that’s why the wealthiest people have financial advisors. They understand the value of having someone challenge them to take their lives to the next level.

For example, I ask Jessica to rate her level of passion in life on a scale from 1 to 10. She says she’s definitely a 10. Her life is in balance, and she’s living her dreams. She loves her husband, loves her job; she’s in great health. As her coach, I then ask, “How would you like your life to be a 15?” Wait a minute! I changed the scale on her! That’s my job as a coach, to open up her eyes to possibilities she’s never even imagined.

Even if your life is great right now, you still need to grow. Yes, I said need. Living things are either growing or dying. Why do billionaires continue to work? Because there’s only so many margaritas you can drink on the beach before you get stir crazy. You’re probably saying, “Hey, Curtis, that’s a challenge I’d love to tackle.” See! You’re instinct to grow is showing itself even now!

This might all sound like one long commercial for coaching, and it is in a way. But it is not a sales pitch for my coaching. Yes, I strongly believe in the value of having a coach. And I recommend to anyone who wants to take their life to the next level that they find a coach. But you get to choose who that coach is. Maybe it’s a mentor where you work. Maybe it’s your rabbi or priest. Maybe it’s your mother or father. Maybe it’s one of the thousands of life coaches out there. Or, maybe it’s me. It doesn’t matter who it is as long as you and your coach create that synergy together.

The truth is, I might not even be the right coach for you. But I do offer sample sessions so that you can experience first-hand what coaching is all about. Why would I give away coaching sessions if there was a chance I might not be the right coach for you? Easy. Each time I do a sample session, there is one more person who has experienced the value of coaching. Maybe you ultimately decide it’s not right for you, but you know someone who could benefit from coaching. Increasing people’s awareness of the coaching profession is a good thing whether or not it helps me directly.

Plus, each time I coach someone, I become a better coach. Synergy is a two-way street. Never forget, we are all teachers and students.

©2005 Curtis G. Schmitt

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