DO NOT BECOME A LIFE COACH. SERIOUSLY. IT’S NOT FOR YOU
In The Prosperous Coach, I wrote:
THE COACHING PROFESSION HAS A PROBLEM THAT IS TWO-FOLD: THERE IS A LOW BAR FOR ENTRY AND A HIGH BAR FOR SUCCESS
“The barrier to entry for coaching is now SO low that literally anyone can become a coach. There are companies that will certify you for free, and almost every “coach training company” promises immediate wealth and success if you will just sign up for their coach training.
This means that many people experience coaching at the lowest end of the skill spectrum. Coaches who have trained online, coaches who have done a weekend workshop, and coaches who have simply read a book about coaching are hanging out their shingles and offering free sessions to tempt potential clients.
It’s no wonder that despite the incredible results that real coaching can generate for clients, many people will have a poor experience of coaching.
But you don’t have to be one of those coaches. You can be extraordinary if you are willing to put in the time, educate yourself, and turn pro. Use that high bar for success to your advantage. Be one of the committed coaches willing to clear that bar.”
Research from a few years back indicated that 80% of coaches make $20,000 a year or less. Here are four articles that nail some of hard truths behind this statistic and just what it takes to succeed as a coach:
1. LIFE COACHES – DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB. WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU IN LIFE COACHING SCHOOL
I love Rebecca Tracey’s no-nonsense, speak-my-truth-no-matter-what article:
“I’m nervous writing this post. It’s
going to offend some people. It’s going
to hurt some people. And, it’s going to
– dare I say it – crush some people’s
dreams. But it has to be said.”
“What drives me up the wall is that
somewhere out there, someone is
feeding us all lies about how if you’re
passionate about something, you can
turn it into a business. That if you just
BELIEVE in the power of your dream,
you can do anything you want to do.
And I’m calling bullshit.”
She makes a very powerful point about NOT quitting your day job—or at least not leaving behind the skills and experiences that got you to where you are today:
“Do not – I repeat DO NOT – ignore all
your past experience and knowledge.
And don’t quit your day job just yet.
The other (hard) truth is that any
tangible skill is about 10,000x easier to
market than coaching is, so for the love
of buddha, don’t give those up
completely to become a life coach.
If you want to make coaching work as a
business, you need to bring in all your
other expertise, experience, and skill,
and use THAT to drive your business.
And DEFINITELY being your
PERSONALITY and strengths to your
And she quotes her own friend who is a relationship coach who nails it with this edgy statement:
“This is hard as fuck. You have to be
willing to throw tons of love, energy,
money, blood, sweat, and tears into
this before anything actually happens.
Give it at least 3-5 years, and in that
time, you’d better get to know about
2. My friend Chris Morris wrote a provactive article: “ARE YOU A GOOD COACH WHO CAN’T MAKE A LIVING FROM COACHING? REALLY? DON’T DELUDE YOURSELF!”
“The dirty secret of most struggling coaches
is they don’t want to be a coach at all.
Usually they want to focus their life on being
a good person, learning about themselves
and connecting with like-minded people.
Coaching is just their way of monetising that
Really they’d rather get a grant from the
government or some body that agrees their
enlightenment is a benefit to society.
These people don’t want to work, and they
don’t want to run a business. They wish
and hope and pray that they can earn a
high fee just for being themselves.
It’s a nice idea. But It’s why they
struggle to make a living from coaching.”
3. Andrea Owen has a great article on the myths (and there are many) about becoming a coach: BECOMING A LIFE COACH MYTHS [BUSTED]:
“Life Coaching… seems to be the
fancypants, trendy new profession and
why wouldn’t it be… making a living by
helping people become their best self.
I know for me, upon hearing that this
was an actual profession, it was like a
dream come true. I sat my butt in
training at an amazing coaching school,
got out my calculator and figured out
how much money I’d be making as soon
as I got certified. The stars in my eyes
could be seen for miles.
Then reality hit.
I had no idea how to run a business.”
4. And Tim Brownson has a list of 12 GREAT REASONS TO BECOME A LIFE COACH that are pretty close to the mark for many people considering becoming a coach:
You once persuaded your friend Susan to kick her husband out after the pig put his socks in her underwear drawer.
You feel a strong urge to convert people to your way of thinking
You like a good gossip
You like wearing sandals and eating tofu sandwiches
It’s easy money and there aren’t many set-up costs
You once attended a Tony Robbins seminar and have a certificate to prove it
You like to shout at people
You get strangely aroused discussing other people problems
You have a copy of ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Reading it isn’t absolutely necessary – you showed willing.
You can work on your own anger management issues at the same time
You own a whistle and like wearing baseballs caps back to front
You’ve attended the ‘University of Life’
THREE TYPES OF COACHES
Here’s what Steve Chandler wrote in The Prosperous Coach:
“We know from experience that all these coaches will end up as one of three distinct practitioners:
1. Pro coach
2. Part-time coach
3. Personal Growth coach
A Pro coach makes her primary living through coaching. And it is a good living—with a yearly income comparable to the income of other professionals in private practice (lawyers, doctors, accountants, etc.).
A Part-time coach is professional in the sense that he charges a good, strong fee for his work, but he has another primary vocation or source of income that sustains him, and he therefore does not rely on coaching for his livelihood. He simply has clients on the side.
A Personal Growth coach has received training in the profession and “knows how to coach,” but does not do so professionally. Their skills still remain valuable tools for whatever work they do, especially in leadership roles, because good coaching always brings out the best in another person and can be applied almost everywhere people interact.
None of these levels is better or more honorable than another.
We’ve trained many coaches who have created a great living from their coaching income. Some now make high six- and even seven-figure incomes as coaches.
For a coach to fully turn Pro, a lot of time and energy must be invested in achieving a mastery level of effectiveness. For coaches there is no law school or medical school to force them into a Pro. They must take it upon themselves to self-educate and make the journey.”
32 DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN A SUCCESSFUL COACH AND A STRUGGLING COACH
And here’s how I draw out some key distinctions between these different types of coach:
“Not understanding these three levels of engagement will result in one thing only: a Struggling coach.
A coach who says they want clients but have few or none. A coach who says they want a six-figure income but who is afraid to charge for coaching. A coach who wants to coach clients but has never been bold enough to invest in their own coaching.
Here are some powerful contrasts and distinctions between Struggling coaches and those Pro, Part-time, and Personal Growth coaches who are thriving:
The Struggling coach wants to coach anyone and everyone. They are afraid to ask for money. They want to wait until everything is perfect before they charge for coaching. They spend their time, energy and money on “getting the word out.” They think that marketing is essential in order to sign clients.
The Pro coach is committed to coaching, no matter what. Failure doesn’t stop them. They are not embarrassed by their mistakes. There’s no turning back.
The Part-time coach learns to love their full-time job. It’s what brings in the cash to allow them to do the coaching they love in their spare time.
The Personal Growth coach loves coach trainings and reading and seminars as ways to deepen their understanding of life, business, money, health and relationships.
The Struggling coach thinks that because they give advice to their friends they will be successful as a coach. They coach without permission—friends, family and colleagues—and they cannot distinguish between impactful coaching and unsolicited advice.
The Pro coach learns to love selling coaching. And they know that cash is not the only way to be paid for coaching. You can be paid in experiences. You can be paid in relationships. You can be paid in learning. You can be paid in referrals.
The Part-time coach understands that limitation creates value. Only having a couple of hours a week for coaching makes them more attractive as a coach, not less.
The Personal Growth coach learns to love supporting their friends and family (with their full permission).
The Struggling coach thinks getting clients is the “hard” part. They seek more and more information about how to “get” clients. They want more and more information on the latest, newest “magic marketing system.” And they think that they just need to find a guru to teach them the “right” way.
The Pro coach knows there is no “hard” part. They love the business side of coaching as much as they love coaching.
The Struggling coach tries to please everyone.
The Pro coach serves people and does not try to please them.
The Struggling coach wants to be comfortable. They want to be liked. They people-please. And they wonder why their clients miss sessions and don’t show up on time.
The Pro coach knows that being uncomfortable is the only way to grow. And because they create such powerful agreements, their clients never miss or are late for a session.
The Struggling coach has huge dreams that overwhelm them.
The Pro coach has huge dreams, and takes tiny steps every day.
The Struggling coach is scared to ask for money or to state bold fees
because they are afraid of rejection.
The Pro coach knows there is no such thing as a high-paying client. Your
fees are just a filter for the clients you’d love to coach.
The Struggling coach spends their time creating a beautiful website, stunning business cards, requesting “likes” for their Facebook group and sends out tweets on the hour.
The Pro coaches their butt off.
The Struggling coach has never invested in their own coach. They don’t see the message this sends, that they don’t even believe in coaching enough to invest in it for themselves.
The Pro coach understands that receiving coaching is part of their professional development. They model the power of coaching by devoting a significant part of their time, energy, focus and income to being coached by the best coaches they know.
The Struggling coach thinks money is like oxygen.
The Pro coach knows that money is just money.
The Struggling coach thinks confidence is a requirement before taking action.
The Pro coach knows that confidence is a result of taking action.
The Struggling coach tries to sell the concept of coaching.
The Pro coach sells by giving people a powerful experience of coaching.
The Struggling coach seeks more and more credentials.
The Pro coach knows that credentials are irrelevant because the only question clients ever want an answer to is: Can you help me?
The Struggling coach is reactive.
The Pro coach is creative.
As I sit down to reflect, almost 2 years since the publication of The Prosperous Coach, I am clear that not everyone is cut out to turn pro as a coach.
And that’s ok.
The word ‘amateur’ has a bad wrap. It comes from the Latin word for “love”. An amateur does what they do because they LOVE what they do. They don’t need to make an income doing it.
The sooner most coaches embrace this term, the sooner they’d thrive. They’d find another source of income. Or maybe another career. And if they continued to coach part-time, they’d most likely sign more clients than ever before.
However, a professional coach needs to get paid for what they do. There’s no way around this one. They need to get really, really good at Creating Clients.
And an EXTRAORDINARY professional coach will ultimately get paid—highly—for doing what they love to do, PRECISELY because of all the love, energy, money, blood, sweat and tears they’ve invested in their professional development.
PS. If you got angry or frustrated reading this piece or if you said, You’re wrong, Rich, or if your determination to be a professional coach INCREASED instead of decreased—then maybe, just maybe, you’ve got it in you to succeed in this incredible profession we call Coaching.