WTF Do Coaches Actually Do… And Are They Worth Your Hard-Earned Cash?

09/12/2017 11:40 am ET
Nikko Macaspac

[This post is co-authored by Awilda Rivera and David Wiacek]

Everyone is yapping about personal transformation, and everyone claims to be a coach.

These days, unless you’re living under a rock, you’re bound to come across a ton of blogs and Instagram posts about “personal transformation,” be it around health and fitness, career or business growth, or even personal relationship development. Sometimes there’s a slightly corny or deeply motivational quote thrown in there, other times you’ll see a long tear-jerker of a story about a personal struggle, and occasionally there’ll even be a before-and-after photo. You might say, “Wow, that person looks better at 50 than at 30” or “Look at them gains!” or “That person was a janitor last year; today they own a business and a luxury car!”

Maybe seeing these stories inspires you. Maybe it downright annoys you. Or maybe it makes you “hella” jealous for a split-second before you scroll down to another picture of a puppy or a piled-on ice-cream cone and you momentarily forget all your worldly troubles. Perhaps you see all this personal growth on social media as a fad that will pass, and you simply don’t pay it any mind.

But on some level, at some point, you must’ve asked yourself: “What are these people on, and where can I get some? My life isn’t perfect, and I could certainly use some help.” But then you quickly grow skeptical, wondering how much of this change is real, and how much of it is an exaggeration or a flat-out lie created to get more attention in the form of “likes” and “retweets” and “#whateverthehellistrendingrightnow.”

The same can be true of online coaches. These days, there’s a coach for everything! A coach for fitness, a coach for dating, and career growth, and creativity, and spiritual awakening, and on and on… yes, there are even coaches for coaches! Sometimes it can all seem a bit much. But if you dig deeper, you will often unearth that many of these coaches are the real deal, and they have been responsible for enabling some major transformations in people’s lives, including dramatic weight loss (or healthy “gainz”), profound mental shifts, boosts in self-esteem, job promotions, major career switches, rebuilding of broken relationships, etc.

There’s way too much (and often conflicting) information out there! Help me sort it out!

“Is chocolate bad for you now? Last year they say it was good for you.” Information alone isn’t enough. There’s a ton of available (and often free) data online: blog articles, infographics, listicles, slideshows, long-form articles, videos, step-by-step instructions, GIFs, tutorials, and on and on, ad nauseam. But with such an onslaught of information at our fingertips, there are several challenges that emerge:

First, what information is legitimate versus exaggerated or straight-up fake? So much stuff online is skewed to sell you a product or service, sometimes one you don’t even need. Don’t be a sucker! You’ve (probably) worked too damn hard for your money. Don’t waste it carelessly on a “magic pill” that promises to quickly solve all of your problems.

Second, just because the information is accurate, does it apply to me? Everyone’s situation is unique, and some solutions are not one-size-fits-all. Your life circumstances may be uniquely challenging, and the information you read online may feel too generic. Don’t waste time on something that sounds good but won’t help you make real, lasting changes in your life.

Third, if the information is true and can help me, will I have the discipline to apply it to my life in a consistent and meaningful way? Who will keep me accountable? Who will help me stay on track? I can buy a treadmill, but who will ensure it doesn’t sit unused in the basement, collecting dust?

What do coaches bring to table? Here’s the bang for your buck.

Those three challenges listed above, we strongly believe, are why coaches even exist.

Specifically, good coaches can help you in the following ways:

· Sift through a deluge of irrelevant, incorrect, time-wasting or even dangerous information.

· Remove the mystery behind the process of achieving your life goals, whether it be losing weight or building your dream career.

· They make things practical and simple to follow (not always easy, but at least simple).

· They make the goals feel achievable… with enough effort, that is.

· They support you. They keep you accountable. Because sometimes your family and friends just don’t want to hear another word…

· They save you money and time. If you invest wisely, the right coach can save you headaches, dollars and time. For example, you can lose weight and gain muscle in a more efficient way, you can find a better-paying job or earn that promotion in a shorter time-frame, etc. Ultimately, an investment in a coach is an investment in your own growth.

· They can present new challenges, push you, and stretch your mind, body or spirit (sometimes all three).

· They can listen to you genuinely and fully, but they won’t take your bulls#%* and your excuses.

· They empower you. They don’t enable unhealthy or counterproductive thoughts and behaviors.

· They help you celebrate wins, large and small. This helps you keep going.

· They treat you with respect and professionalism.

· They make the process fun and joyous. Personal transformation shouldn’t just feel like a painful and dull chore all the time. A good coach will find ways to introduce elements of fun into the process.

· A good coach will keep in touch, even after you’ve achieved your goals, to make sure you’re doing well. Who knows? You may call them up a few years later when the next big life challenge pops up.

What are some actual results from working with a coach?

Full disclosure: we, the authors, are ourselves coaches (surprise, surprise!). Rather than telling you in boring and generic terms what we do and how we help our clients, we thought it would be best to illustrate our work and purpose with real-life examples:

Client 1: Worked in a very high stress but fulfilling job abroad. She had dedicated several years to actively honing her skills and beefing up her resume. However, over time, her level of joy and satisfaction started to wane. She realized she needed to return to the US in order to start the next phase of her life and career. Overwhelmed by the challenge ahead, she enlisted the help of a Success Coach to help her identify and embark on a transformative plan of action. Within a few short months she had returned to the US and had secured a fantastic new job that provided her with greater exposure and satisfaction. Wishing to set herself up for professional and personal success, and avoid the workaholic mistakes of her past, she worked with her coach to set firm boundaries at work, created a genuine work life balance, and expanded her romantic prospects. Not 6 months later, she was engaged and is looking forward to the wedding! She credits her Coach with helping her take the transformative action necessary to make mere daydreams into a reality.

Client 2: Promoted to Managing Partner and became fixated on a growth plan that involved overseeing offices in two major US cities. Although the client was highly capable and consistently rose to the occasion, the resulting headaches (literal and figurative) made him wonder if it was all worth it. Working with a Success Coach helped the client fundamentally redefine his understanding of success. He was able to “let go” of one of the offices without losing self-esteem. He became less stressed and increased his focus at work. In the end, he was able to score exponentially more wins and earn both the company and himself a lot more money.

Client 3: Experienced big wins after only one cycle (3 months) of coaching, including: (a) identifying, applying and getting accepted to a perfect-fit graduate program, (b) realizing it was time to end a long-term relationship that had become unhealthy and (c) managing to part ways via an amicable divorce. Feeling understandably empowered, the client decided not to continue with coaching and go at it alone. One year later the client contacted the coach expressing a desire to resume coaching because of lowered confidence, unclear vision and confusion about next steps. After 1 month of additional coaching, the client reported increased clarity and had embarked on a very clear strategic plan. Specifically, the client appreciated the accountability partnership that Success Coaching provided.

Client 4: Client was working in legal industry for 20+ years, a large chunk of it abroad, and realized he had enough. He felt completely helpless, because he didn’t know anything outside of the law profession, but he knew he wanted a way out. While some friends and former colleagues were supportive of his decision to abandon ship, they were unable to help in practical terms except maybe to lend an occasional ear. He wanted more than a shoulder to cry on. He wanted results! Working with coach, the client completely re-branded his resume, LinkedIn and online documents, and created a clear strategy to switch industries. He practiced interviewing with the Coach and gained significant confidence for the road ahead.

Client 5: Client was relatively young and inexperienced, and had never negotiated a higher salary, instead taking what was offered initially by the prospective employer. After a short-term coaching engagement, the client was able to confidently negotiate an additional $20K in annual salary along with securing additional benefits and perks that she had never considered prior to coaching.

Client 6: Client was a veteran freelancer and consultant, with decades of experience working for top-notch clients, but the work was drying up and the client wanted the stability of a regular paycheck. He wanted to make the shift into the corporate world but had no idea where to start, and was intimidated by the whole experience. Coaching gave the client a clear sense of possible next steps. Additionally, the client created a formal and updated resume that he never previously had because of the nature of freelance work. This new resume gave the client a new sense of purpose and confidence to seek out opportunities and interview with confidence.

Client 7… eh, we think that’s enough examples. See a pattern here? None of this is magic or even rocket science. Often coaching unlocks, awakens, and empowers the desires, goals and dreams that are already within our clients. Sometimes we introduce new ideas, small tips or massive strategies, but often we validate what the client knows, and we hold people accountable. We outline realistic strategies and weekly steps, and if the client does their part, the rest falls into place.

Remember to vet your coach!

Get a taste before you pay. Check out sample work of the products or services. Explore the website and any review sites. For any big-ticket, premium products or services, make sure to first talk to the coach before committing to anything. Even the most intelligent, kind-hearted coach might have a communication style or overall vibe that isn’t compatible with your personality – chemistry is key. That said, be open-minded. If you’ve gone through multiple initial consultations with various coaches and still haven’t found “the one,” perhaps the problem isn’t with the coach.

If you’re looking for transformation, here’s the one thing, the only thing, you’ll really need.

If you’re looking to transform your life, you must want it. Really want it. We are all beautifully flawed human beings. There’s always some room for improvement in our lives. You might be kicking ass at your career, but your family or social life may be wilting. You might be rocking 6-pack abs, but you can’t maintain a steady relationship. Or you might be romantically fulfilled, but you hate your job and are confused about your career. At some point in your life, maybe not today, maybe down the road, you’ll realize you’ve got some work to do. You can put it off for a while longer, and then go it alone, or you can bring an expert into the mix. Someone whose very livelihood depends on your success.

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Awilda Rivera is a Certified Success Coach who helps clients identify, strategize and execute a plan to achieve the personal success, growth and transformation they desire. She is also a Certified Yogi, helping her students cultivate a perspective of physical success as they connect with their body mindfully in this mad, high-stress world we inhabit. For more information, visit: http://www.awildarivera.com/

David (Dawid) Wiacek is a Certified Career Coach, resume + LinkedIn writer, and creative brand strategist. He helps individuals find more fulfilling, better-paying jobs; and helps businesses stand out in print and online. For more information, visit: http://www.davidthefixer.com/

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