Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I'm in the wrong business

Just the other day, I read an article about something called "life coaches" and at the end of it, I hadn't learned one blessed thing about managing my life better or figuring out my next move toward greatness. I did, however, find it enormously entertaining.

Apparently, as a society of needy people seeking help, guidance, counseling, assistance, and encouragement every minute of every day of our lives, we have moved beyond the idea of a counselor, or a therapist or even a mentor to help us achieve our potential. Any of the above mentioned people may in fact be able to help but jeez, they can be so negative sometimes, can't they? I mean, who wants to spend three years with a licensed therapist only to learn that you still haven't confronted your anger issues and you have spent no time at all listening and learning some new habits that may help you control your temper? Who needs to hear that without you either making some significant changes to your everyday activity or in fact seeking a new place of employment, your job simply isn't going to change like magic into the dream position you imagine you deserve?

Yes, therapists can deliver some tough messages from time to time, and ask you some very tough questions. This is why anyone with any sense at all is turning to a life coach to help them figure out how to make their dreams come true.

Life coaches come from all walks of life but my favorites are the ones who achieve their credentials through an online course of instruction in a matter of months. What kind of ego must you own if you believe that you can - in all good conscience - and with every confidence that the advice you're imparting to your clients is truly useful and achievable - become something as amorphous sounding and un-measurable as a life coach?

I have no earthly idea. But one of my favorite quotes from the article summed up the entire discipline of life coaching as follows: "If life is a ball of yarn, therapy helps you untangle it. Life coaching helps you knit a sweater."

What? If life is a ...what? A ball of yarn? Hold on a second; I'm going to give this a try:

If life is bowl of apples, therapy helps you peel them. Life coaching helps you bake the pie.

If life is a pile of socks, therapy helps you remove them from the dryer. Life coaching helps you match them in pairs.

If life is a ...oh, forget it. All I know is that some of these coaches are getting something like $225 AN HOUR to coach their clients VIA EMAIL OR VIA PHONE. From their own livings rooms. In their pajamas. They're using the cut and paste features of their email programs as they send scads of empowering, positive, life-affirming advice by the hour. They're watching Law and Order with the mute button pressed on their phone as they half-listen to the next crisis from their clients.

Think about it. They would create various categories of "life" that seem to cry out for coaching skills: employment, marriage, children, your all purpose family issues, money, home management, spirituality, health, recreation. They could then cobble together little snippets of pithy, important-sounding but vapid pieces of wisdom they could share, and little worksheets they could tweak with the stroke of six keys, so that the questions they ask you to fill out to honestly evaluate how you handle money, for example, could be easily edited to indicate how you handle your children, or your parents, or your boss, or your spouse or your exercise program.

I'm trying to figure out how I would sign off my emails at the conclusion of each session if I were a life coach who doled out my wisdom via the internet. "Have a super-empowering week!" "Go be the best you ever!" "Say yes! And keep going!" "You are powerful. You are aware. You are your own destiny."

Honest to god, I could do this for hours. And at $225 per, I wouldn't have to do it for that many hours every week. I'm thinking three clients a day, four days a week and I'd be pretty content.

I'll grant the tiniest bit of leeway here and say that maybe - just maybe there are people in the world who are very, very good at helping others see their strengths, and weaknesses, and call them on bad habits, wrong choices, and mistakes that could have been avoided. They help others make tough choices and stand by them when they do. They celebrate accomplishments and success right along side others, and help them enjoy a moment of glory.

In the old days, they were called friends and family. And they didn't charge $225 an hour.

.....Thanks for visiting......I'll try not to stay away so long next time but god forbid I make a resolution about it. The last thing I need is some life-coach voice in my head telling me to update the blog and stick with my resolution to write here several times a week. I hope you understand.

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