Coaching Blog

Did Coaching Go Mainstream Without You?

Posted by Julia Stewart

I've been at odds with all the experts on this one for years and I read it again in Andrea Lee's book, Multiple Streams of Coaching Income,recently (which I recommend, btw).

Everybody who knows anything about coaching knows that coaching hasn't gone mainstream, yet, but when it does, it'll be really BIG. Have you heard that one?

Guess what? Coaching already went mainstream!

How do I know? For starters, I first heard about coaching on the Oprah show five years ago. Actually, I had heard of it previously, but it didn't sink in until Oprah did an entire series with Cheryl Richardson (every Tuesday, I think.) At the time, Oprah was the #1 TV show in the world (I think it still is, but I haven't looked that up). They even watch it in Saudi Arabia! That's as mainstream as it gets (and that was five years ago).

I remember telling Thomas this in an R&D class, when he asked "When do you think coaching will go mainstream?" "Coaching is already mainstream, now", I said. (I could tell he didn't believe me.) Who was I to tell Thomas anything about coaching? I was just green enough not to know any better! Sometimes it takes a neophite to notice something the experts are missing.

And every year that goes by, I get more right about this one.

In 2005, coaches aren't just guests on other people's TV shows, now they have their own shows. Rhonda Britton even has two shows on different continents!

And have you noticed how often coaching gets joked about in advertising, TV and movies? And did you know that there's an indie film out there called, Life Coach, the Movie? Did you know that thePurpose Driven Life, a run away best seller in the US, is a coaching book written by an evangelical minister?

I think coaches are resistant to this idea, because they've bought into the notion that when coaching goes mainstream, everyone will have a coach. Then, it'll be easy to get clients, right?

I think coach training schools further this notion. They train coaches. The coaches can't find clients. The coaches say, "Hey, what happened?" and the training schools say, "Just wait, when coaching goes mainstream, it'll be easy."

What if coaching went mainstream without you and you're still waiting for it to get easy?

So where are my clients then, you say? They're all around you. People want coaching. They want better lives, better careers, you name it! And some coaches are making money fast by offering people what they want.

What's my point, here? My point is that professionals (not just coaches) stop themselves from being successful, because they get too rigid an idea of how success is going to look. They keep waiting for success, their way, to show up, when success a thousand possible ways is going wanting.

I learned this as a personal trainer. Personal training is about 10 years ahead of coaching. I remember when nobody knew what it was. Some people still don't. But it hit the mainstream in the 90's. I was able to ride that wave, because I had learned that in fitness, you can't sell people what you think they need, you can only sell them what they want. 

Big distinction!

I remember sitting in the back of a Pilates studio in Manhattan, where I was picking up and extra certification. My classmates were bemoaning the above distinction like they were doomed to failure, because of it. Then I shared the secret: "Once you've got them, you can educate them." Little lightbulbs went on all over the room!

My personal training clients come to me with very specific goals. They want to fit into the jeans they wore in college, for instance. Or they want to look like they did at eighteen. I don't lie to them. I tell them I can't turn them into eighteen year olds, but they can look great at 50. They're willing to accept that as a goal. Funny thing, though. They almost always say later, "I came because I wanted to look better, but the real reward is that I feel so much better." And they stay with me. I've had one client for fifteen years!

How does this translate into coaching? I'm not suggesting you pull a bait and switch. Don't promise to double their income and expect them to be satisfied with less stress. (That could happen, but don't plan on it.) Do find out what they want and what format they want it in. Will they buy a book, a motivational CD? Will they join a group that meets in your living room every week? Will they take a work-out class where the instructor slips in a little coaching? Will they take a series of classes that includes a coaching gym?

Once you've got them you can educate them. 

What else can you do for them that they don't know about, yet? Do you know that chasing after dreams is almost never as fulfilling as living your values? People who haven't been coached, yet, don't (usually). Let them begin to learn that, while they're experiencing you in some other format. Offer to take them even further with it. Maybe that'll lead to one-to-one coaching. Maybe to another book. Who knows?

One thing is for sure. With seven billion people on the planet, you don't have time to coach them all one-to-one. Especially now that coaching has gone mainstream!

Copyright, Julia Stewart, 2005

Topics: Coaching, Thomas Leonard, OPRAH, Cheryl Richardson, Andrea Lee

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