I read a cheeky article last night (thanks Steve) that had me rolling. It made me think about something I’ve been wanting to write about for awhile now.
I can’t stand life coaches and lifestyle designers.
There, I said it. I even had a lengthy Facebook chat about this with a friend the other month. I told him, “I’m a coach and even I hate the term life coaching.”
I mean, c’mon. Isn’t the world already flooded with enough nut jobs claiming to have the magical solution to help you build a billion-dollar business overnight “for only 3 easy installments of $39.95”?
Dude, that’s so not how I roll.
And don’t even get me started on how much it pisses me off when I get introduced as a life coach or motivational speaker before I’m about to go on stage to give a kick ass presentation. Especially when I swear I specifically wrote “The Shin Kicking Life Spark” as my title in my bio.
I mean I know I’ve been told by folks who love my work that I resemble a “Midget-Sized Tony Robbins” or that I exude massive charisma disguised in an alter ego named “Dope-rah Winfrey.” Even though I’m somewhat flattered by that sentiment, I’m not okay with becoming the 75th rate edition of these fine thought leaders.
They’re already taken.
But I’m not hatin’. It’s kinda my fault.
LIFE COACHES CAN’T BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY
Let’s digress for a minute. I’ll give you a quick back story.
Back in 2007, I really really really wanted to be a life coach. Like, really. It was a new concept to me. My coach at the time–who had left corporate sales to become a life coach herself–helped me out of one of the darkest times in my life when I was still married to a corporate sales job that was quickly killing my spirit every single day.
Less than one year after that revelation, I graduated from a coach certification training program that completely changed my life. And, in what seemed like an overnight effort, I became… drum roll please… a life coach.
I grew up Catholic so if you would have told me some day I would “find my calling,” I would have scoffed at you and maybe pointed a little behind your back. But the day I graduated from my coaching program, I truly understood what that expression really meant.
I finally knew my definite purpose in life.
But, like any other bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and very naive person new to their calling would do, I made some major epic fails right out of the gate. Such as vomiting all over everyone with this unspoken ideology that read “I’m a life coach and I’m going to fix all of you miserable, damaged souls… bow to me you filthy scoundrels!”
Or something to that effect, if my thoughts could talk.
I kept showing up that way for the first few months, actually quite possibly the first year or more, dismissing anyone who didn’t get my offering. Thinking you know stuff when you’re really a novice can make it easy to get caught up in your own hype.
Biiiiiig mistake on my part!
When you don’t really know what you’re doing and you emulate other people who don’t really know what they’re doing either. What you end up with is the blind leading the blind. And the life coaching logorrhea gets passed from one naive coach to the next and the next.
It’s a shame really because the work life coaches and motivational speakers do (I can’t speak for lifestyle designers) for people is some really amazing stuff.
But the stigma that has become attached to life coaching is often compared to satanic cults, which has made it problematic for many good coaches to get taken seriously these days.
THE BEST COACHES DON’T CALL THEMSELVES LIFE COACHES
As my purpose deepened and I evolved as a solopreneur, I realized later that it wasn’t really the title “life coach” that bothered me so much. I was more irked by the number of unqualified and inexperienced people out there who were building overnight businesses after completing a 3-hour class certifying them to sell pipe dreams to naive customers that were fond of taking short cuts.
If I am to be completely honest here, the primary reason I stopped calling myself a life coach is because I was selling myself short with that single title. If you’re doing other awesome-sauce work outside of coaching such as blogging, writing, giving inspirational talks, collaborating on philanthropic projects, or volunteering as board of directors of non-profit organizations, how can you sum that all up in “Hi, I’m a life coach”?
So, I made up my own job title.
It took me over two years to own “The Shin Kicking Life Spark” because at the time I put it out into the world, I was afraid I’d get rejected. What if my clients see me in action and think, “Pfft… she’s not really a shin kicking anything”?
To get even more personal here… I have abandonment issues.
My first coach cut me loose with little notice and left me to fend for myself when I was still a budding life coach. And I’m not just talking severing the professional relationship. She let our friendship fizzle to nothing with no explanation.
My second coach helped me write some of my greatest digital products at the time I was first learning how to create compelling content. Then one day out of the blue, he changed his last name and disappeared off the face of the earth. I didn’t realize there was anything wrong until one day I went to his Facebook profile and found out he had unfriended me.
This is not a sob story by any means.
When you divulge personal and vulnerable information to people you idolized and trusted who lifted you up to transcendent places during some paralyzing times in your life and they reject and abandon you more abruptly than some of your fickle exes, it’s hard not to take it personally and become skeptical.
And “how does that make you feel?” It made me very scared, and validly so. Afraid I’d turn into the kind of coach who would abandon or reject people the way my coaches did to me.
BE A GOOD HUMAN
What happened was bittersweet. You learn to find some pretty amazing lessons in every experience, good and bad. If this sh*t had never gone down, I honestly believe I wouldn’t be the shin kicking life spark you see before you today.
As Phil Gerbyshak, my good friend, co-host and fellow coaching partner says,
No regrets, but no repeats.
There is no short cut to success. There is no magic pill to become an authority in that thing you want to be known for.
The secret to being an awesome coach, speaker, writer, entrepreneur, leader, lover of animals, changer of the world, or whatever label, is to simply be a good human being. Someone who actually gives a crap about people. It’s also your job to work damn hard at becoming really good at it.
If you have trouble wrapping your head around that massive idea, have a look-see at what I put together here just for you:
STOP DOING THIS STUPID SH*T:
- Over promise and under deliver.
- Call yourself an expert in anything.
- Use titles everyone else already uses.
- Emulate people you want to be like.
- Follow best practices.
- Fake it till you make it.
- Be a douche.
DO MORE OF THIS GOOD STUFF:
Care about and help others.
Show up. Every day.
Do good whole-assed work when you do.
Rinse and repeat this process until it becomes your daily religion and never stop doing this.
Stop calling yourself a life coach (or whatever label society has given you). Simply start doing more good sh*t and don’t stop until you own your corner of the world doing that good stuff.
p.s. if you need help with this, I know someone who puts out a kick ass private newsletter over here