There seems to have been a lot of fuss within the coaching community lately. I've seen ranty Facebook posts popping up in my newsfeed, blogposts shared in networking groups, and opinions flying left, right and centre about the waves of new coaches, the fast-approaching point of over saturation within the coaching industry, and the way in which coaches brand and market themselves.
Many of the criticisms seem to be coming from those who've been in the industry for a number of years, but I want to point out that I don't see the issue their taking being one of frustration at the new competition. Overwhelmingly, the frustrations seem to centre around the results some new coaches are promising to their clients - without the years of expertise or actual time-proven evidence to support them, and the way in which so many coaches are branding themselves and their businesses. As someone who's been reasonably active within my little corner of the coaching community over the last year, I'd be lying if I tried to tell you that I hadn't picked up on some of the things that established coaches are frustrated about.
When I discovered that life coaching could actually become my career - rather than something I just intuitively, did, I learned about the International College of Wellness Coaches, IIN, and the Beautiful You coaching academy - all within a few weeks of one another. Once I began studying and working with Jessica Nazarali, I discovered Gina Devee and her Divine Living Coaching Academy.
I chose to study with ICWC for a number of reasons: Gala Darling was slated to teach one of the classes; the vibe of the website copy genuinely felt on key for me; and Sarah had AMAZING turquoise blue hair at the time, rides a Harley Davidson, AND lives in a freakin' awesome House Bus. As much as Sarah is my kind of empathic, retro inspired, animal loving, punk rock hippy, I didn't simply choose her coaching certification program. I also decided that the alternative options weren't for me.
Part of the reason that I decided not to enrol in a school like Beautiful You, or IIN, wasn't so much that I disliked them or what they were offering, but even in the early stages of exploring the coaching world and getting to know other people working as coaches, I was already picking up, not only on how many people were going through those courses - but more to the point, how similar those coaches seemed - and how different they were to who I wanted to be. I know that these similarities will naturally occur when a group of people spend a LOT of time learning together, they're likely to reflect certain traits, interests and styles - and I'm not dissing any of these coaches - let alone the academies they trained with.
I've definitely noticed that one of the biggest points of contention lately, aside from the $5k-$10k price tags attached to many coaching packages on offer at the moment, is the designer life styles; glamourous, fashion style, professional photo shoots; and the global travel being enjoyed by many coaches taking up more of the focus of their message than the actual results they empower their clients to achieve. Another big one, has been the levels of frustration about coaches who make their money from other coaches, and the idea that everything is starting to feel like a giant circle-jerk to those who are working super hard to get their messages out there - or maintain their own credibility in a very noisy marketplace.
I realise that I'm stepping into this discussion as somebody who was recently featured as an "It Girl of the Coaching World", so this could be a really interesting conversation as we get further into this. I want to point out that being described as an "It Girl" is absolutely the last thing I ever imagined would happen to me - not just because I've always been part of the weird Art Crowd, or because of my birthmark, but because I'm actually fairly awkward, and a total dork most of the time - and these are part of what I love about who I am.
The brand I've built for myself as a coach is so strong because it has SUCH a clear focus on being about building an empowering and supportive community of Rad Bitches. That and the fact that who I show up as online, or at networking events, is so tied to who I am in everyday life. As much as I love having nice things, they are not the be all and end all for me, so it just wouldn't make sense for my website or social media posts to be filled with images of designer fashion as part of my everyday life. The way in which I communicate with my Girl Gang; the way I write on my blog; and the way I speak on video are all examples of how I naturally connect with people - and for me, when I did my photo shoot, it was paramount that the shots we got actually reflected who I AM - all while forcing me out of my comfort zone and out into the zone of dis-quiet.
The truth is that I fucking love getting to engage with the women in my Facebook group, and that I get to provide a space in which they feel safe and supported while we all grow and expand into ourselves is such a freaking HONOUR. Just the fact that I'm allowed into these women's lives is amazing for me - and this isn't even about working with paying clients, because at the end of the day, if everything turns to absolute shit and I decide to ditch this whole intention of building a coaching business, there is NO WAY I would be closing The Rad Bitch Girl Gang.
Now, back to my jist. I think that part of what is happening at the moment, is that new coaches are seeing what is working for other big names like Gina DeVee, Marie Forleo, Gabby Bernstein and even Gala Darling - they're seeing the lifestyles that these women are living - and because that's what THEY want for themselves, they're doing their best to embody their idea of success. What happens when you do that though, is that you project that back out to the world, and I think that as coaches, it's really important that we consider HOW we project that back out to our potential clients, and that we consider whether or not that even resonates with the people we want to work with, or if we're just buying into an idea because we've seen it work for someone else.
I've said this before, in The Girl Gang space, while speaking on live preview calls (including that time I actually got to speak alongside Gina DeVee), and at live events, but I honestly can not stress this enough, whether you're a coach, a blogger, a singer, an artist or whatever, it applies to everyone. For the love of fuck, PLEASE, just be yourself and speak your own truth!
While I'm sure that for everyone who isn't me, the idea of doing a beautifully styled photo shoot on the crowded streets of Paris is probably HEAPS of fun, but if you're going to do it, make sure that it's because it actually does feel like a fun thing for you - don't just do it because it seems like the thing your peers are doing.
On the whole thing of pricing, and paying for coaches or programs and actually getting results, there are a couple of things I'd like to mention. I read Liz DiAlto writing on this recently, and yesterday Sarah Liddle (of ICWC) wrote about Saying Goodbye to the Spiritual Development World. Both of these women are freaking amazing, and they've been in the game for a shitload longer than I have, but my thoughts on working with a coach are as follows - and I say this as someone who has invested a significant amount of cash in coaching over the last year, and who has seen it as being money very well spent - regardless of what happens with my business down the track.
There is not a coach in the world who can make anything happen for you. We can't just give you the results you're seeking just because you've paid us, that's not what we're here for.
We DON'T have all of the answers, and we won't just do it all for you. Coaching is a partnership, and what you should be looking for in a coach, is whether or not you wholeheartedly feel that they have the knowledge, skills and experience to empower and support YOU to achieve your goals - whatever they might be. Those skills and knowledge don't necessarily mean a formal qualification, but you should look for demonstrated evidence that your coach has actually achieved for themselves, as well as through working with others, the kind of results they're promising you.
Ultimately, all of the growth and learning you do within a coaching space should come from within you. A great coach should provide the space, the stimuli, and the support for that to occur. The should encourage, empower and challenge you to go deeper within yourself, and to shift your own perspective outwards just a little. Working with the right coach should make you feel heard and understood. You should leave the session feeling a little more confident in yourself, and excited about what you're going to achieve before you speak next.