How To Tell a Bad Life Coach
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Contrast.
I’d don’t believe you need a gazillion credentials to be good at the job you do, though if you’ve been recommended to me for brain surgery, I’m probably a little more concerned about your skills than your bedside manner. However, I do understand the importance of proper training, especially when you’re mucking around in people’s lives. It’s something that slowed me in my career transition because I wanted to avoid the mistakes that an acquaintance made.
She doesn’t talk about exactly what happened. Just that she made a mistake. My guess, from my last conversation with her, is that it wasn’t her only mistake.
People close to her won’t talk about exactly what happened either, except that she messed up someone’s life by interjecting her own personal issues into a professional relationship. Whatever happened with her client was bad enough that she lost her confidence level and without it, her career dissolved. She’s trying to rebuild that now by getting the training she never had. All I know—from personal experience—is that I can’t trust her advice.
She’d always been told that she was very intuitive. Truth be told, some people consider her clairvoyant, not for seeing clearly but that when she’s “clear,” she sees the big picture in an amazing way. When she’s dealing with her own personal issues, her advice becomes muddied with what amounts to advice to herself or advice she wishes someone would give her. Not necessarily the advice her clients need.
But, this woman who had very few years of business experience, no college education, and no way of supporting herself except through the kindness of relatives, decided several years ago to hang out her shingle as a “spiritual coach.” Which might have been fine except that she had yet to make it through any of the spiritual training programs she’d started. She gets to the hard part and quits. But when I first met her, I didn’t know all that. The woman definitely had confidence in her abilities, even when she later announced that she was doing career coaching and something she called “starting-over” coaching. She gave me a free knock-your-socks-off inspirational session on career transitions that was pure marketing and I vowed if I ever needed help in that particular area, I’d go back to her on a professional basis.
And that did happen. I went to her for a little bit of career advice a while back, when I was looking for a mentor. I told her upfront that I was looking for a mentor, someone to work with once a month after we got started. She knew that before I ever paid her the first dime. I wasn’t looking for her friendship—just pure professional advice. I quit after four sessions, two in one month and then two follow-ups. I’m grateful to have found a couple of new mentors who are everything she wasn’t.
It started well enough. The first hour we talked, we focused on career transition issues, but then things shifted. She wanted to get into some other “areas” of my life to aid me with the career transition. In hindsight, I see that what she really wanted was to be a relationship coach. She was in a happy relationship at the time we first started talking and it was one area where she felt really confident. Then her relationship hit an abrupt dead-end.
By the end of the next session, she was asking questions of me and answering them herself. Things like, “Do you love yourself?” And then, before I could respond, saying, “I don’t think you do.” Or asking me what the most hurtful thing was that ever happened in my life or what themes I’ve seen play out in my life and loves.
These questions threw me at the time. She kept straying off the subjects I wanted to talk about, touching on them only briefly before heading back to the reason I sought her advice. Not that I’m against holistic treatment of any type, but she would go off on a tangent that didn’t seem related to my life at all.
The last time I saw her, the most she spoke on my career transition was that I would probably do well and be very prosperous at anything I tried.
Okay, that’s nice, but not really the kind of advice I needed. I wanted to work on career planning, timing, milestones to expect, practical sorts of things. She was on-target with just enough advice in the past two sessions to keep me coming back, though I was waffling about her ability by this time.
She wanted to talk about men in my life. Even though she knew nothing about my divorce, she told me she thought I was still in love with my ex. I wasn’t. I couldn’t imagine where she got that idea, and I assured her that I’d moved on.
She asked about the last man who’d fascinated me and perked up a bit. She proceeded to tell me how wonderful everything would be between us. I told her he wasn’t around anymore. Then she told me that I had to stop beating myself up for not doing things to trap him or trick him into staying with me. I had no idea what she was talking about and told her I wasn’t beating myself up for not doing those things because I never would try to trap or trick him and if anything, I’d encouraged him to be flexible and follow his dream.
She told me to forget about staying with any one man, that if I did, then I would “never have any peace,” and it was best if I move from relationship to relationship. When I protested that this wasn’t what I saw for myself, she told me that she knew it wasn’t what I wanted to hear and that was just my ego talking. Maybe she was intuitive enough to grasp that this was our last session because she told me that “Another advisor will tell you that you can have your dreams, but you’ll never enjoy them unless” I did it her way.
We never spoke again. Whatever happened around then caused her to change the way she saw her business—which she’d made into a business and not a profession—and she’s not been able to regain her former glory. I know that she told me way too many things that were flat-out wrong for me, and all flavored with her personal opinions on relationships and events in her own life.
I know for me, she did little to help with my career transition except to show me the importance of being objective and non-judgmental when it comes to working with other people to help them make their lives better. Because it’s not about making their lives better in the way I define “better” but in how they define it.