Beware of wolves in coach's clothing

I recently enrolled in a six month program with a marketing coach.   I was very excited about the combination of marketing expertise and coaching.  As a trained and experienced coach myself, I expected this to be an individualized, supportive partnership that would be focused on my needs.   I would have someone to guide me, help me focus my efforts, help me figure out where I’m stuck, uncover self limiting beliefs, keep me motivated and hold me accountable.  And, of course, I'd be able to tap into her extensive knowledge of marketing. Boy was I disappointed.

Coaching is a popular concept these days.  And because coaching does not require a license, anyone can use the term. What I got from this person turned out to be more like a series of audio books with email support.  A canned set of tips and techniques “that have worked for thousands of people”.   Her approach was basically, "Read these 34 documents and email me with questions".  Yes, the information was good, but it was overwhelming.  I already knew most of it and I couldn't figure out where to start with the rest. It wasn't coaching. Coaching is so much more than skills instruction.  A coach reaches out to where you are right now, and leads you to where you want to be.  Coaching is personally relevant.  Probing.  Thought-provoking.  Creative.  It's about about getting into action. According to the International Coach Federation:

"Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach's job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has."

I have lots of experience, insight and knowledge about ADHD. Part of my job is to educate you, yes. But mostly my job is to get you to use that information.  To apply it to your own unique situation.  To find solutions that work for you.  To get you to change.  Apparently, not everyone works this way.

Lesson learned:  Just because someone calls herself a coach doesn't mean she IS a coach.

If you're in the market for a coach, make sure you and the prospective coach are in agreement on what the term means.  Don't make any assumptions.  Coaches love questions, so don't be afraid to ask.

Thankfully, I had negotiated a satisfaction guarantee with this "coach" and was able to get out of my contract.   Others in her program probably weren't so lucky, or may have left with a really bad idea of what coaching is all about.   I wish I had some way to let them know what coaching really is.