Working with coaches comes with a risk.
A risk that they won't listen, that they will bring their agenda, they will see something for you that you don't want (sometimes they will see things for you that you don't know you want, this is different).
Some coaches/mentors/training will use shame-based marketing and make you feel bad about who you are and what you haven't managed to do yet and sell off the back of that. I've been there and had many coaches like this.
I've invested more money than I can count into programs, 1:1 coaching, and training. Most of them delivered Epic Value. What they shared was exceptionally insightful, taught well, and often really good at building the need for the next thing they wanted to sell me (that more often than not I bought).
As someone easily influenced I would get on the train and ride on through right past my station. Going beyond what I needed into this world that was spoken of so highly and while I had amazing experiences (mostly), being on the train longer meant I was getting further from my desired goals instead of closer.
Instead of taking me where I wanted, they took me for a ride.
Now I will acknowledge that there was some onus on me to get off the train, to put a stop to this, to pull the emergency brake and turn things around (and yes I realise turning a freight train around is rather impractical, but I could have at least got off).
I remember asking one coach I was working with to stop focusing on a particular topic, it wasn't what I wanted (ironically I'd probably have never got to being able to do that without some of the distractions of another school that I attended) and he said Yes and then the very next session went back to pushing his agenda. We stopped working together after two more sessions.
There are times as a coach to encourage and invite, in fact, I did it with a client the other night, I kept playing back a word that she had brought up and was trying on. But, at no point did I notice a rejection of that pathway, and maybe that's me being naive, maybe I should have layered in more permission in the call, feedback to me.
I would hope that I would never blatantly disregard a client who said stop or no, and I do invite all of them to step into that space with me. What do they want? What are they aiming for? Would they like to consider ... or is that off track?
So, while I know some coaches, trainers, and mentors will push an agenda to make a sale my monetary results suggest that is not in my nature. 🤣
I have found mentors that have many opportunities available to clients, but there is no hard shame-based sell. The group program is filled with content, not reasons to buy products you don't need. While there is an opportunity to upgrade to 1:1 it's not pushed.
Working with this mentor has changed my trajectory. As evidenced by my recent undertaking of the 4 tendencies profile. When I first did it I was an Obliger - meeting other people's needs while rejecting my own. These days I am a Questioner - meeting my own needs while questioning other people's requests of me.
A coach who offers acceptance of who I am, of listening to my goals, and letting me do things in a way that aligned with my preferences (including spending 10 minutes one day in a group setting finding a word that resonated with me because hers didn't) changed my trajectory.
There are some coaches who will push agendas, there are many who will support yours. The key is to assess how they respond when you table your ideas.
Once in the programs are they constantly building a need for the next thing they offer - or are they helping you take action that aligns with the goals you tabled when you joined?
As coaches ourselves it's worth reflecting on how we want to be invited and encouraged, how we want to be interacted with, and designing our programs accordingly.
While I may have been taken for a ride, so much of what I received was still rewarding, and if nothing else I learned to be far more discerning in who I hire and how long I allow them to make me feel bad about where I am, instead of focusing on where I could be headed.
Bad apples in the industry shouldn't be what holds us back from connecting with coaches, mentors, or trainers. Caution shouldn't become paraliszying.
Stories of shams shouldn't become reasons not to even try and find someone, though they should raise our discernment.
4 tips that may help those on the fence:
1. Never spend more on an investment (even in yourself or a coach) than you can afford to lose.
2. Ask questions, do due diligence, but don't get caught in analysis paralysis, choose a number you can live with investing, and make an investment and see if it pays off.
3. Learn from every opportunity. If you make a poor choice, learn from it. If you make a great choice, learn from it.
4. Keep trying. There is a coach/training/mentor out there that will help you find your way. Keep looking. There is no failure, only feedback, until we give up.
5. Remember it's a two-way street. Don't place all blame in either direction. It's not all their fault if we are taken for a ride. It's also not entirely our responsibility to ensure that providers deliver what they promised. Take responsibility for your choices, place responsibility for their actions in the right proportions.
Working with coaches, mentors, trainers may come with risks, it also offers opportunities for great rewards.