Why aren't you using a coach? Or why are you?

I have several friends I have referred to coaches, but who haven’t done anything about it.

These are people who are suffering from serious stress, or have issues with their boss, or other problems, which haven’t shown any signs of improving for a while, and which they care deeply about.

Yet they haven’t taken any action. Why is that?

It took me quite a while to get started talking to a coach myself, so I may have a clue.

First, finding a coach seemed overwhelming. You want to make sure it’s a good one, and not just some schmuck! But these people have a personal recommendation from me, so that shouldn’t be the problem.

Second, there was the fear that explaining everything going on in my life would take forever. So the first 5 sessions would just be about explaining everything. The reality is that it takes at most half an hour to explain enough. Usually 5-10 minutes is enough. The details can come later, and mostly aren’t as relevant as you think they are.

Third, there was the fear that it was going to be painful. Realizing less pretty things about yourself is painful, and you kinda know in advance that you’re not going in there to be sweet-talked. You go for the substance. So it’s going to hurt a little bit. What we don’t realize is that it’s going to hurt for maybe 5 minutes today, versus the 10 minutes of suffering every day caused by leaving this problem unresolved for the next 4 months. Which would you rather?

Fourth, the fear that I was fundamentally broken in some way. This is a secret fear that almost all of us have, because the way we have been raised have taught us to believe this. That’s why I was afraid that if my coach kept poking, maybe he would reveal something that proved that I was not okay. The truth, of course, is that it’s hogwash. We are okay. There’s nothing frightening there.

Fifth, there’s the belief that you only need a coach if there’s something wrong with you. This too, of course, is rubbish. We have simply never learned how to live life effectively. We’ve learned by assimilation of our parents, and if we’re lucky, they knew. Most didn’t. We were consistently brought up to believe things that are neither true nor helpful. And our schools don’t help, either. So how are we supposed to know, exactly?

What else prevents people from using coaching?

If you’re not using a coach, what’s holding you back?

If you are, what prevented you from starting sooner?


I'm not using a coach because coaches fail to answer a simple question: what is this (the use of a coach) in aid of? People have been through gurus/psychiatrists and businesses have been through the equivaletn, ie, management consultants ... and are wary and skeptical if a specific, tangible thing is not presented by the coach. Will a coah help me figure out my goals? If I have goals, will a coach help me reach them in a way that I can't? Just because I may have problems, how can a coah possibly know me and my specific situation enough to help me. What, specifically, do coaches offer? After 5 sessions or 10 - to fix a problem? That implies incompetance on my part and super-human ability on theirs. To make more money? Why bother coaching if making money is that easy that you can explain it in 5 sessions. To fix my problems? How can they know my problems better than me? To motivate me? Perhaps. But how will that lead to the change I want? The girl I want to date doesn't like me. I go to a coach. I get motivated. How does that change my situaiton? Will she change her mind because I'm more motivated? Or simply accuse me of harassing her? The problem with coaches is that they're too general and the comparison to sports teams is thus improper: a sports coach usually played the sport and competed and can share insights on how to train better, manage aspects of life, etc. Unless someone's in my situation, how can they have the credibility to make me pay them to tell me something that they have no experience with? Equation: Your current life + My coaching = what, exactly? Status quo? I could go to a bar and have more fun drinking and my life stays the same. Change? How, specifically? How so that is not possible without the coach? Change towards what? An increase in outer, material goods? Usually people are reluctant to share that kind of info, so that brings skepticism. An increase in inner, mental qualities? How, specifically? Do you have some "thoughts" or quotes or something I repeat when life gets hard or I lose focus or motivation? Some proven exercise with proven results? Secret mantras I repeat that open up a previously unused part of my brain and help me perform better? Subliminal messages to trick me into performing better? Here - let me give you an example. There's a book I recommend to many people: Kaizen - How One Small Step Can Change your life. In it, the author, a psychologist, offers a specific, simple tool and a clear explanation as to why it works better than other things: to overcome doubt and procrastination, start ridiculously small because big plans scare your brain and shut off the creative part you need to do modern work. After reading the book, I know what specific technique I get to use during what situations, why it works, and why I should pay attention to the guy touting it, and how to apply it and how to test if it really works. Therefore, I can judge his effectiveness. Since "coach" = nothing specific, there's no way to judge whether "using coach" = good use of time. Hence, people are reluctant to use coaches.
I need a good coach right now. Who can you recommend ?
By Preben Arentoft on Tue, Feb 26, 08 at 07:47 · Reply
@Preben: Myself, of course. But you're a coach yourself, no?
By Lars Pind on Tue, Feb 26, 08 at 07:47 · Reply
I remember when you suggested coaching to me, Lars. I think my first thought was "what, exactly, in my demeanor is making you suggest this to me?" - which I guess borders mostly on your 4th and 5th points. Other than that, I think a basic dichotomy is the aquisition of a perfect stranger in order to sort out personal issues. I would think there has been plenty of experiences with this within classical pshycology. It is a very real barrier...perhaps not for (manically) outgoing people, but certainly to the remaining 85% (my estimate, who knows..). This of course has to do with trust and intimacy. Two things that are not present in the beginning - which might explain your 2nd and 3rd points. The ideal would be a way of initiating that trust and intimacy in an easier way that does not immediately require commitment, does not involve psycologically demanding tasks like formal meetings and stranger contact. Perhaps. This is just my intuition talking ;)
By RasmusJ on Tue, Feb 26, 08 at 07:47 · Reply
The "are you saying there's something wrong with me?" syndrome is interesting. Because there both is and there isn't. No, there's nothing wrong with you. There's not. Period. (Even though most of us believe that there is and constantly criticize ourselves for our behavior in an attempt to improve on ourselves.) And yet, there is, in the sense that most of us have been brought up with a belief system that's hurting us and limiting our happiness and what we can do. And that there's another belief system that's more true and helpful, and that we can learn instead. So there's nothing wrong with you, there's something wrong with what you were taught to believe.
By Lars Pind on Tue, Feb 26, 08 at 07:47 · Reply

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