Here is the truth about life coaching : Great coaching is art. It’s like painting, writing, dance. It’s intuitive, fluid, creative, adhering to a structure, yet leaving room for the un-contained. The boundaries of it are difficult to articulate; when I’m in session with a client I feel into the edges on a somatic level, knowing that they are there yet not there.
Good coaching feels alive, because it is alive.
Good coaching is about the art of being human and being in a support role with other humans–emphasis on the word “being.” We’re talking about truly being. Truly meeting. Truly listening. Truly breathing with. Truly walking with and through someone in the experience of being human.
For all the problems that yes, do arise in any industry where there’s a lack of formal certification, I’m glad that there is no strict standardization. I spent a semester in graduate school to become a therapist, and it was the longest six months of my life. Lifeless. Dead. I asked the students who were a year ahead of me in the program if it got better. Not one person I spoke with felt lit up about working with people, and all of my classes seemed to keep coming back to the relentless topic of adhering to state and BBS guidelines.
I meet coaches who tell me that they want strict standardization in the industry, so that they can have “credibility.”
I think that the highest form of credibility is not found in pieces of paper but in clients who tell you, straight up, “Working with you made my life better. Thank you.”
I think there’s something bold and beautiful behind the renegade, “fuck proving my skill-set to any authority” rise of coaching. Yes, swindlers and charlatans exist (of course, they exist in any industry). But what I see most is the rise of a tribe of people who genuinely want to make the world a better place, and they see that one way to do that is to help people heal on an individual level so that we can heal the collective.
I see a tribe of people–women, in particular–who truly do treat coaching like an art form, a craft that they are honing and co-creating with every client.
I don’t say any of this to condescend the work of therapists and social workers. I believe that there are many art and meaning makers among their ranks. I just don’t believe that the only people qualified to help someone walk through the toughest challenges of life are those who have gone through a credentialing program. I’d like to see therapists open to the work of coaches, and see coaches stop diluting the power of therapy in their marketing.
Speaking of opening doors, let me speak to the money for just a moment: people criticize how much coaches charge. Well, if the day ever comes when the many social service agencies out there are willing to open their doors to someone who is a coach, when their HR departments no longer require an MFT or MSW, I’m there. If insurance companies ever have an openness to subsidizing co-pays for clients who want to hire coaches, I’ll fill out all of that pain in the ass insurance paperwork so that I can take on clients who need insurance in order to receive personal help.
The system needs to change, removing some of the gatekeepers and coming up with other systems for evaluating whether or not someone can work with clients aside from fulfilling credentialing requirements, if coaches are to be able to take salaried positions. Until then, coaches charge roughly what therapists in private practice charge, per hour, without any possibility of utilizing insurance companies to help clients with the payments–which then pretty much pigeon-holes coaching into a higher-end category.
In other words? Most coaches I’ve met wish they could find salaried positions, where someone else brought clients in and handled marketing, admin, paperwork, billing, and the rest, and then they could simply work with clients. Those positions don’t really exist, and it’s not the fault of coaches that they don’t exist.
Coaching could be part of a revolution. It’s a revolution of people who are waking up to themselves. The best coaches know that revolution always starts with your own personal evolution. We’ve got to let go of our own limitations, to do the work of loving ourselves wholeheartedly, getting vulnerable, creating deeper connections, and all the rest of it, if we want to have a shot at helping anyone else.
I’ve seen coach trainees in the Courageous Living Coach Certification get raw n’ ruthless with their limitations, feel devastation, feel lost, feel-feel-feel and then get challenged to dig deeper…and I’ve watched as a fierceness emerged from them: I’m on this. I’m shifting. I’m digging deep. I’m transforming. There is no other path for me, because I’m choosing this one where I look at all the stuff I don’t want to look at, and then I choose to love it, and then we laugh, together.
I see them supporting clients who are finding their way through all of that, too. That’s how we wake up to ourselves: being seen, held, and cared-for as we look at all the crap we don’t want to look at, and then decide together, “I’ll choose to love it, and we’ll laugh.”
People can come to this business because they see a Facebook ad promising that they’ll easily make six figures while working from home, or they can come to this business because there is no high quite like the effervescence of having truly connected with another human being. There’s art in it, and magic, and for some that’s just way too precious of a comparison, but anyone who has experienced this level of support knows differently.
We are a world that is dying to wake up. We want to wake up, together. Coaching is one way for that to happen.
Not the best way, for all people. What arrogance, to preach coaching! It’s one path among an infinite number of paths–one that I have chosen and highly value, but it’s not for everyone.
I raise an eyebrow when coaches bemoan the tough state of trying to convince people of the value of coaching.
Convincing ain’t selling.
People are convinced of the value of coaching, when they see you living an amazing life.
Not a perfect life. Not a life devoid of problems.
But rather–an amazing life. My own amazing life includes days where I cry, say mean things to my husband, or resent the demands of parenting. Why? Because I’m human.
My own amazing life also includes an incredible amount of laughter, authentic and true apologies, and a love beyond anything I’ve ever known for my baby girl. Why? Because that’s part of being human, too.
An amazing life isn’t a perfect life. It’s a life that makes space for all of it.
This is the truth about life coaching .That’s what I think that the best coaches are trying to help their clients to find: a life where there’s room for all of…life. Space for the joy, space for the pain, and always–always–space for love.
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