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.

Attract Him Back

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.