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.