While watching the “Today” show the other morning, I caught a segment on “life coaches.”While we are clearly in the day and age of convenience and quick fixes, I am not quite sure that line can be extended to the general category of life.
Sure, if you want to start a business you can follow the easy steps in the “Entrepreneurship for Dummies” book, or if you want to learn how to bake but aren’t Martha Stewart you can buy a “just-add-water” box of mix and have a chocolate birthday treat in no time, but the segment simply did not have me convinced that hiring a veteran “life coach” would be the easy solution to all of my problems.
According to Laura Bertman Fortgang, an experienced life coach and author, a life coach is someone who “will help you unlock your potential by showing you ways that you can grow and invest in your ability to achieve.” It is also someone who can help you close the gap between your current state and your goals. While I agree this is something we could all benefit from, I just don’t see how a stranger is going to “unlock my potential.”
On the “Today” show, Fortgang said that we are in need of life coaches in today’s societies because we either do not form close relationships early in life with people who can mentor us or we don’t stay in one place long enough when we enter the workforce for us to be able to form a relationship with a mentor.
So instead of promoting relationships between people, or encouraging adults to provide an example for their children, we can skip that annoying step of getting along with our parents or socializing with our coworkers and just reap the benefits of relationships from a life coach. Instead of having a boss, friend or family member help you make goals or keep you accountable to your responsibilities, you can pay someone a lofty fee to point out what you’re neglecting in life that is holding you back from ultimate success.
Wait, there’s more – not just anyone can hire a life coach and find that bliss and success that have been missing; according to Fortgang, you have to meet certain requirements to be worth a coach’s time.
You must be ready, willing and able.
Ready to invest time, to attend sessions and work on given material on your own and to recognize that there is a significant gap between where you are in life and where you want to be.
Willing to do what is asked and to give 100 percent to everything – even if it is something you don’t think will necessarily work for you. You must also commit to completely giving up any self-defeating behavior.
One must listen to a coach (rather than a therapist or 12-step program), and be patient – even if no immediate results are seen and you must be supported by family and friends in your life coach venture.
If you can’t do all of these things, Fortgang says you must make personal adjustments before a life coach will have anything to do with you.
Don’t get me wrong – committing to erasing all self-defeating behavior and having a goal in mind that you are always reaching toward is essential in life. But if we could all sincerely cut out 100 percent of our negative behavior, wouldn’t half of our problems be solved already? Do we really need a life coach to tell us that our bad mood or momentary crash from the normal “can-do” attitude is what is keeping us from reaching our goals?
The segment also emphasized that a life coach is not a counselor or a business consultant. Fortgang says that coaches are not trained to handle emotional problems and would never try and counsel a patient. Fortgang and I agree that counseling to help one find goals or work through issues is perfectly valid, but this leaves me wondering – if a person wants to visit a counselor, why would they need the additional help of a life coach? She also says if you have business goals you need to visit a consultant specific to this area; she can’t solve your business problems, never mind that this is a major part of many people’s lives.
“Coaching is holistic,” she said on the show. If easing frustration is necessary for you to achieve your goals then she said they will work on that but that a coach is mainly there to help you look at your whole life and understand how to improve it to the point that you don’t have trouble closing the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
Like the “just-add-water” cake mix, this easy fix to life’s inconsistencies sounds great. But while I might be able to bake a decent cake with the right easy-bake box, I am not yet convinced that a coach for my life will allow me to accomplish my goals through an easy one-two formula. Life’s simply not that easy. There’s nothing wrong with having to look to a family member or coworker for accountability or mentorship; our society is built around team work and relationships. Why not get into the practice of interaction in your quest for self-betterment? You’re supposed to have to work to achieve your goals – if a coach could change that more people would be taking advantage of the trend.
Kathleen Thurber is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from Colorado Springs, Colo.