As of today, I’m forming a Coaching Think Tank Dedicated to a singular cause. To learn from the world’s best coaches and then figure out of the translate that knowledge to create more brilliant coaches and raise the bar of the coaching industry.
In other words, I’m on a quest to create a small army of truly brilliant, innovative, masterful coaches and to rid the world of shitty one. Why? Because I’ve seen first hand how powerful masterful coaching can be from both sides of the zoom call AND I’ve seen how unskillful (aka shitty) coaching not only doesn’t help as much, but it muddies the water of what could be a very noble profession.
Here are the operating assumptions of this venture:
1. Even shitty coaching is mostly ok
– Coaching in any form is of value so there’s no need to degrade or insult coaches on this quest. Of course, power dynamics can lead to some messy situations but solving that is not the aim of this project.
2. Coaches don’t want to be shitty
Maybe some of them do, but for the sake of this project, I’m going to assume that most coaches at some level want to be great at what they do. Now some may lack the motivation and others might argue with what masterful coaching is, but that’s always going to be true. The point is that I’m going to assume most coaches want to be not shitty.
3. Coaches either don’t realize they’re being shitty
If they did I assume they would make an effort to become non-shitty (see assumption 2)
4. Or they do realize this but don’t know how to become masterful
I mean coaches invest in lot’s of stuff (it’s the biggest part of the coaching industry after all) but judging by the number of shitty coaches I’m going to guess most of it doesn’t work. So if assumption 2 is true, then they are doing so out of ignorance and not malice for their money and their clients.
5. Masterful coaching can be learned
If it can’t then we’re all just screwed, but seeing as almost everything from brain surgery to knife juggling can be learned I think this is a safe assumption. Sure there are some natural ace coaches out there, but that doesn’t mean there’s no point in the rest of us trying.
Now that you have my assumptions here are the hypotheses that I’m currently testing
Hypotheses 1 – Masterful Coaching Can Be Simplified:
Our current methods of teaching coaching seem to be failing us. Certification organizations pump out hundreds of coaches every year and yet most of the coaches I’ve encountered and experienced aren’t masterful.
My guess is that one reason this happens is material is actually low frequency (not focused on the most vital aspects of masterful coaching). The reason for this belief is that I’ve watched myself and other coaches I know vastly improve simply by studying brilliant, masterful coaches.
Which means if it’s possible to improve that quickly simply by observation and practice. The problem must not be the method of teaching but instead the material these schools are using.
If this is true it should be wholly possible to produce masterful coaches in much less time and with a much higher rate of effectiveness.
Hypothesis 2 – Better Practice Leads To Better Coaching:
” Research has shown that, generally speaking, once a person reaches that level of “acceptable” performance and automaticity, the additional years of “practice” don’t lead to improvement. If anything, (…) these automated abilities gradually deteriorate in the absence of deliberate efforts to improve. ” – ANDERS ERICSSON & ROBERT POOL
Once you’ve got the right material I think the next key is engaging in deliberate practice of coaching. And that this deliberate practice must include quality feedback (from yourself or others) on your performance.
It’s odd in a way how much emphasis get’s put on the certification of coaches. Becoming a certified coach is like becoming a licensed massage therapist or for that matter a licensed driver. If we used licensure as a standard for excellence in driving, we’d get some pretty weird ideas about what it takes to be a world-class driver. And yet the only real standards I’ve encountered in the coaching industry are certification and revenue.
Outside of certification, we don’t talk much about deliberate practice and there’s almost no place that practice occurs, outside of client sessions. That is a little like letting medical students that have passed some basic anatomy exams practice on live patients, with no one to tell them why their patients keep dying. If this was how we trained doctors we could hardly expect the doctors to become world class. And yet this is what most coaches hope will happen.
I’ve long wondered why certified coaches seem to end up worse on average than coaches with no training. And I’ve come to realize that certification becomes a line for them to stop the kind of deliberate and effective practice needed for consistent improvement.
If this hypothesis is true then simply by getting coaches to engage in deliberate practice we should be able to reduce the number of shitty coaches and the more we can refine the techniques of practice the more truly masterful coaches we should be able to create.
Hypothesis 3 – To Make Masterful Coaching Appealing It Needs To Be Profitable:
This may be beside the point but it’s a carry over from another working theory I use in my life called trickle down enlightenment. I developed it after I observed a very successful blogger switch email platforms and watched as thousands of his followers did the same. At that time I realized I didn’t need to try to convince thousands of people to meditate or seek deeper consciousness. If I could influence a few key leaders to seek and speak about becoming more compassionate and wise, then many of their followers would come along for the ride.
I think this is also true of creating a world without shitty coaches. As much as we claim to be altruistic as coaches we tend to follow the money. Partially because making money as a coach allows us the time and space to hone our craft, but also because money is very often our metric of success and excellence. Now I could get into a long argument about why this shouldn’t be the case, but instead of trying to fight the beast of capitalism, I’d rather find a way to use the power of its illusory pull to win coaches over to the cause.
For this reason, I think while it’s important that my project help coaches get better it’s important that it also help coaches make more money. Now I think this will partially happen through the improved ability of the coaches we create (if my previous hypotheses hold true), but I also think we need to take this head on, otherwise, shitty coaches that make a lot of money (and there are plenty) will still get a lot of attention and thin the heard of truly masterful coaches.
Luckily the same skills, techniques, and materials I aim to develop to make masterful coaches should also apply to masterful enrollment or sales (though I actually don’t think there is any difference, but that’s conversation is for another time). Which means if we can prove the first two hypotheses true, we should be able to convert that learning and help masterful coaches make more money as well.
Final Thoughts –
At several points, while writing this manifesto I’ve been struck by a couple of thoughts:
Thought 1 – Who the hell am I to change the coaching industry?
I’m an uncertified coach with only two years experience (three if you count the year I spent as a personal trainer) I hold no degrees on coaching, psychology, or teaching and never ran a multi-million dollar business. In fact, before I become a coach I never really had a solid job for more than a year.
And yet it’s often the oddest people who become the game changers of industries. Moreover, the fact is not lost on me that this is the most philosophical project I’ve ever taken on, and for most of my early life philosophy fascinated me. I only stopped studying it because I didn’t want to learn about others I wanted to discover and create my own. So maybe this is my life’s work after all. In either case, I’m not interested in becoming famous. I really just want there to be better coaches. And if I care as much as I claim, who the hell am I not to change this industry which is so in need of change?
Thought 2 – I’m scared to death someone is going to steal this idea from me, take the credit, and make a ton of money from it.
In truth, if I’m successful in my aims this will totally happen. And I guess part of me hopes for it as much as I fear it.
Nothing I’m talking about here is especially news to the world. It’s been studied by countless academics and solidified in plenty of other fields. Still I want to help lead this cause in the industry and to be totally honest I’d love some credit (the newspaper kind) and cash (the digital or paper variety) I own that I’d like to bring some success and glory to myself through this project, which is partially altruistic and partially opportunistic, but in this way I’m very much like by brothers, sisters, and non-gendered defined cohort of fellow coaches.
If I simply wanted to serve without profit I would have stayed a monk, instead, I’ve chosen to enter the marketplace and expand my consciousness using the tools of this realm. Still, I wanted to acknowledge that and bring it into the open, because I don’t want it to affect the clarity of my cause or the value of my mission.
I think this project will have an incredibly powerful effect on the world of coaching and on the clients, we love to serve. But no matter what happens, this project sounds fun. It sounds challenging, and it sounds like just the perfect thing to pour my heart-mind into.
If you’re interested in what I’m up I’d love your support, thoughts, feedback, and love. You can drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org and I promise to share what I learn. But whether you love it or not I promise to do my best to create a world with. . .