Sunday, March 27, 2011

When you hear the words, "I am a Life Coach" -- What thoughts come to mind? BE HONEST!

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Dear Why Annie Armen Readers:

Just two weeks ago, I asked the following question on Linkedin:

When you hear the words, "I am a Life Coach" -- what thoughts come to mind?

To my unexpected surprise, 55 business professionals took a moment out of their hectic schedules to post their replies publicly, while several chose to respond privately.  Now I've decided to re-post this question on Why Annie Armen Blog, to extend the same opportunity to you.
When was the last time you experienced eyes rolling, or thinking silently within "here comes another one" the moment you heard the introduction: "My name is __________________, and I am a Life Coach.  How can I help you?"

We all know that this type of thinking extends toward other professions as well.  For the purpose of this discussion, I am choosing to focus on "life coach".  WHY?  I truly believe that your “honest” feedback here will provide insights to "genuine" life coaches, and no doubt will help their business in some way.

Again, be as HONEST as possible, communicating with respect and compassion! If you have a story to share, one that completely turned you off from working with life coaches, please do tell, without giving any names and in general terms.  On the flip side, if you have a story to contribute, one that moved you into productive action with results after working with a life coach, be sure to share this as well -- again, without revealing names... because the last thing you want is to be perceived as someone who is posting a plug on behalf of a friend/colleague to attract business for said life coach.  My hope is that your story will shed some light and resonate with hearts and minds currently swimming in the sea of confusion on this topic.

Both personally and professionally, I am always looking to connect with EXCEPTIONS TO THE NORM in every field, and I find that many professionals in specific fields (law, medical, insurance, just to name a few) go through similar unnecessary challenges simply because their profession has been negatively branded due to unethical practices by others, however to no fault of their own, and without WHY explanations.

Thank you all in advance for taking the time to contribute.  I truly believe your informative comments with feedback will help many professionals who are currently struggling in this particular field.  


  1. Okay just going to say it as it comes to me...........
    How are you qualified to be a life coach? What real life experience have you had that will ensure you have natural empathy or has your qualification come purely from a structured tertiary environment alone, if anything at all?
    It's a tough one because even as a life coach myself I ask these questions because unfortunately there are people out there, who give themselves this title without any qualifications - be it experience or education or anything formal to back them up at all.
    It's unfortunate that one does feel the need to err on the side of caution but it also makes me aware that others will be thinking the same of me, so I usually like to try and create some awareness for people at the same time if they ask me "what do I do?"

    Life Coaches are mentors and trainers in life, much as a tennis coach is a mentor and trainer in tennis. One would expect a tennis coach to know how to play tennis, just as one would expect a life coach to know how to play at life. And that is what it's about really... helping people to learn for themselves how the 'game of life' is played so they can explore and utilise their own personal power to the max. So one should be able to assume that a life coach knows how to do this themselves.

  2. Dear Wendy,

    What a great reply! You said something so key, "helping people to learn for themselves" ... unfortunately I believe, this is where many professionals fall through the cracks, not just life coaches, but speakers, consultants, etc... A true mentor, a true coach in any field, "helps people to learn for themselves"... as opposed to telling people what to do, what steps to take, as there is no real learning in that, certainly no real sense of accomplishment in that. That's like saying, "Hop in the helicopter, let me drop you off at the top of the mountain, as opposed to guiding you with encouragement and support, so that you can learn to climb the mountain yourself."

    LIFE does not always come with packaged answers, no matter what expert hat one chooses to wear or call himself/herself. LIFE has its colors, its unexpected twists and turns, providing learning opportunities for each and every single one of us on a daily basis.

    Wendy, thank you kindly for stopping by and for contributing your valued thoughts!

  3. Well great question ...... First thought would be "pull up a chair tell me about yourself first where you where,where you are and how did you get there, turning point in your life and what qualifies you for the said position. What can you do to help and guide others and what is your benefit in doing so..... How passionate are you and what kind of support and coaching do you offer?????? Then I see if you qualify for me and my dreams ........

  4. Mike,

    First and foremost, thank you for stopping by and for contributing your thoughts. Great questions! What I value about your response is your "open mind", "non-judgmental" approach, accompanied by your qualification process which is wise! I'm certain your response will serve as encouraging to those who are true life coaches!

  5. In responding to your question when it was posted on Linkedin, my one word answer was politically incorrect,
    somewhat colorful, and distinctly unsympathetic to the sensitivities those in the life coaching business.

    Some people just don't get it and I suppose I'm one of them.

    Over time, virtually all of us find ourselves cast in the role of "life coach" in
    attempting to provide guidance, direction, and counsel to friends, relatives, employees, and others.

    The lesson quickly learned is that in the game of life, people tend to be "uncoachable".
    We can teach skills to those who choose to learn but behavior modification is an entirely different matter.

    While many professional life coaches are no doubt sincere in their desire to help others,
    I can only hope that their success rate is far higher than mine and that of others I know.

  6. Life Coach! Who's life are they coaching and how can they understand the experiences that I have lived to give me the best guidance. I can understand coaching life... I guess being an armature most of what I do, I would like to know how they figured it out!

  7. Hello Paul,

    Thank you so much for stopping by to post your comments. While I appreciated your candid, one word, what you coined as "politically incorrect" input on linkedin, I certainly appreciate your encouraging post here after some reflection on your own initiative! I very much respect that!

    I particularly liked what you said: "The lesson quickly learned is that in the game of life, people tend to be "uncoachable".

    Paul, if I may contribute to your valid statement in this manner. In the game of life, the WHY I have discovered by experience to people being "uncoachable" is not so much they are uncoachable, but rather, they are being "told" what to do, as opposed to being encouraged, empowered for their own choices. In other words, and this being the opinion of one lady -- I don't believe there is one human being who likes being told what to do during any coaching or consulting session for that matter. But rather they enjoy guidance. I have also found that guidance is enjoyed and embraced ONLY when the individual is choosing on his/her initiative to seek for guidance, to seek for direction, to seek for wisdom, or for whatever answers he or she is looking to discover along the way in their journey. When he or she makes the choice on their own, amazing just how "coachable" they are!

    Paul, would love to hear your thoughts?

  8. Sean,

    Always a joy to connect with you, and thank you for stopping by to post your comment.

    You said, "Life Coach! Who's life are they coaching and how can they understand the experiences that I have lived to give me the best guidance."


    Before I begin with my reply, and please correct me if I am wrong ... I find it important to fully acknowledge and recognize you are speaking in general terms. Therefore, please accept my reply not directed at you, but also responding in general terms.

    That said, if you were seeking for external guidance for your life choices for example, and if you were looking for that something NEW, for that extra edge, then would you not be willing to share experiences from your journey to receive that extra added insight?

    The only way any life coach can ever provide you with any kind of value is when YOU are personally and professionally "choosing" to seek him/her out and that you are ready to be open to your next ...whatever that next is. Until then, you are precisely correct Sean. There is no way any life coach can possibly know your experiences, much less relate to or connect with with your experiences to best offer any input until you make that choice on your own to communicate transparently and take steps from there.

    Does that make sense Sean?

    Your valued thoughts?

  9. Hi Annie,

    The problem with life coaches is that the term has become overused, and too many mediocre practitioners have blunted the edge the profession needs.

    I believe a leading edge practitioner needs to grab the industry by the scruff of the neck, tell customers what they should expect, and work with the mediocre practitioners to "up their game".

    From my own work experiences, I know that life skills are important. The UK talks constantly (moans more like, but doesn't take action) about a "lack of soft skills in business".

    Life practitioners should be able to provide such soft skills, but I think often don't talk enough "business language" to show corporates where the value is for their employees.

    It's developed into a classic "us" and "them" situation, and I know the US is much better at seeing the value in providing "bridging" or "facilitation" services.

    Can't wait to hear your thoughts, Peter.


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