I think so too and I’m a life coach.
A couple of years ago I read “If I could tell you just one thing: Encounters with remarkable people and their most valuable advice”by Richard Read. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, however at the time I took umbrage with the comedic genius Stephen Fry’s comment: “one piece of advice I want to give is avoid all life-coaching lessons, they are snake oil, without exception, and the art of stating the so f*cking obvious it makes your nose bleed”.
Ouch, I thought, clearly Mr Fry hasn’t met the right life coaches. Fast forward to a few years later whereby I have now met several of the self-styled world famous, #1 life coaches and I now tend to concur with Mr Fry’s statement.
Some life coaches truly are hawking snake oil.
I say so-called world famous #1 life coaches because the analytical side of me wants to ask them “world famous according to whom?” …“You’re the #1 life coach according to whom?” “How can you be the #1 life coach when so and so also claims to be #1?” “Is there some sort of survey that measures and quantifies this?”
But I digress.
The reason why I agree with Mr Fry’s statement (for the most part) is because on meeting some of these coaches my impression is that they scream inauthenticity and arrogance and my internal radar tells me that they aren’t coming from a good place of wanting to empower and help people.
One such coach wrote such a beautifully well-written authentic book on coaching that I was dumbfounded upon meeting him to find he was one of the most arrogant, unemotionally intelligent individuals I had ever met that I can only assume a ghost-writer wrote his book, for the book certainly did not represent who he was or what he believed in in person.
Another coach I met claimed that for an extortionate fee each month they could guarantee instant, quick life changes for the client. I call BS on this – no one can guarantee life-changing results for a client. A client has to put the hard work in and change their own life – a coach is there to empower, inspire and facilitate the client with the tools to initiative and implement change, but is not able to do the changing for the client. That’s like having your personal trainer do your push ups for you.
I witnessed another alleged famous coach tell an audience member who had poured their heart out on their challenges that they were probably “f*cked up”before laughing and moving on to the next audience member. This coach charges six figures – can you imagine paying that kind of money and being told you are f*cked up? What really astounded me in this case is that the audience hung off his every word and several people kept telling him how “prolific” he was. I kept thinking are you kidding me? The guy is a jerk preying on people’s vulnerabilities.
So why am I writing this? Because I want people to be aware that there are snake oil coaches out there. As an African proverb says “Beware of a naked man who offers you his shirt”, which in this case means, beware of people who offer to coach you but don’t have their own house in order.
What makes a good life coach?
Watch here…. youtu.be/vZZiq3mt0H0
I don’t mean to disparage my industry – there are a lot of very good authentic life coaches out there; in addition to meeting the snake oil coaches I have also met some exceptional life coaches.
Truly excellent life coaches are authentic, trustworthy, self-aware individuals who are not afraid to show up and be open and honest about their own personal development journey.
In my case, I’d like to think that I am a good life coach because over the trajectory of my life I have screwed up, made countless mistakes, and ignored my gut instinct on several occasions. I have had trials, tribulations and successes. What clients are paying me for is the knowledge and learning’s I have gained not only from my successes but also my own failings. Sure, I have qualifications in coaching, which have honed my coaching skills, but what makes me qualified is the time and personal development I have put into myself to overcome and learn from my mistakes.
The thing to remember is that life coaches are human beings; we may be further along the road than some people, but note that along the road we have stumbled, fallen and had to dust ourselves off to keep going. A life coach should not be scared to admit this to their clients.
Beware of happy shiny coaches selling you a story of life perfection and quick fixes – it’s normally all smoke, mirrors and snake oil.
Do you ever spend time with people and come away feeling absolutely exhausted?
You know the people I mean... the constant complainers, the moaners, the people who seem to think life is out to get them. These people are called Energy Vampires, because they suck your energy dry. In effect, they feed off our own energy.
Spending time with an energy vampire can lead us to feel depleted, worn-out, tired, sad, anxious, depressed…. and emotionally exhausted. And, feeling emotionally exhausted can and will impact our own mindset and productivity.
Some energy vampires are obvious – they are the narcissists, the bullies and the megalomaniacs. Others are not so obvious – they can be our friends, family or colleagues who we legitimately want to help, and whom we assume want out help….
Watch this week’s video to gain an understanding on how to identify and deal with energy vampires:
The key points that I want you to take from this week’s video are this:
People inspire or drain you – choose wisely who you spend time with.
I don’t believe anybody has a perfect life, yet there seems to be a lot of perfection being sold on social media these days, and this means that people who are viewing said social media posts, are susceptible to feel “less than” when viewing the posts, and are likely to wonder what they are doing wrong – leading them to ask, Why aren’t I perfect and why isn’t my life perfect?
Research shows that social media affects people’s self-esteem and people report feeling less happy and content when viewing social media. Why? Because people compare and contrast their lives when viewing social media. Essentially, social media can make people feel inadequate.
The thing to remember though, is that social media is just people showing the “highlight reel” of their lives, meaning they aren’t showing all aspects that make up life – the challenges, losses and frustrations that we may feel. And, quite often the “highlight reel” isn’t what it seems either. For example, someone I know posted on social media the other day that 2018 was a great year yet said to me she had a terrible year. Another person I know posted a picture of her and her husband having a romantic dinner and I commented that it was beautiful picture... her response “we had a big fight at dinner… he forgot my birthday”. These are just a few examples of how the highlight reel may be giving false impressions.
Since I don’t want to be a part of the problem, I have decided to demonstrate my authenticity to show you that I don’t have a perfect life.
Watch to see for yourself.
Until next week,
It’s important to realise that before we can change our lives, we must first review and examine what our life is like now in order to determine what is and isn’t working for us. This may sound obvious, but often we do not know what exactly is not working other than the fact that we feel unsatisfied.
And, when we do not know what is not working, we end up feeling stuck and, in a rut, spinning our wheels.
In order to determine what isn’t working for you ask yourself these key questions:
Really challenge and be honest with yourself when you answer these questions. Make sure you hold yourself accountable (don’t blame others) and own your answers and story – meaning, accept it, take responsibility and know that only you can make changes.
Change begins with awareness.
Establish your baseline to determine what is and isn’t working for you in life.
Once you have established your baseline you will be able to see clearly where changes are needed for improvement.
Until next week,
For most of my adult life I have been a socially aware individual; relatively well versed on society and world issues such as homelessness, the refugee crisis, war and global health endemics. One of my passions is politics and what makes society work or not work as a whole and as such I have spent much of my life reading and watching documentaries on various global matters.
Unfortunately, up until a few years ago this passion led me to invalidate my own story.
I used to compare and contrast society problems to my own life and when comparing said issue(s) I would think to myself that I had zero right to complain about my own problems and worries. Guilt from my Catholic school days constantly circulated in my mind… there are starving children in Africa… there are people far worse off than you… you have a roof over your head and food in your tummy… do you really think you are that special? Get over yourself!
Because I kept telling myself that I was fortunate, I invalidated and did not give credence to my own distresses. I discounted the voice in my head that was shouting at me to change my life and to find my purpose. I cannot do that… I cannot indulge such frivolities…don’t you know there are people who would love to have this job/make the money you do…you are lucky…
Eventually the anxiety and subsequent depression that I fell into forced me to start listening to my inner wisdom and necessitated that I validate my own story. I become aware that just because my situation did not compare to someone else’s did not mean that my story was invalid and unworthy. And, as I began to validate my own story, I came to own it, and by owning it I was able to set myself free and make the necessary changes to build a new chapter in my life.
Watch this week’s Youtube video to hear how I learned to own my story, validate and reframe it.
Remember that by validating and taking ownership of your story you have the opportunity to re-define your story.
Acknowledge obstacles that you have overcome. We all have a story.
Where you are at today does not define you – you have a choice to stagnate in your existing story or you can write new chapters and build an enhanced story.
Furthermore, validate and accept the story of others – even if you cannot relate to or understand the story.
Key questions to ask yourself: