Life coaching: 5 things about it that make me cringe.

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Written by Katie


Yes, I have some issues with life coaching.

Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and I believe it’s immensely useful but there are some things about the life coaching industry perpetuated both by coaches and non-coaches that genuinely make me cringe.

1.The term “life coaching”

I know, it’s borderline ridiculous that I dislike the very thing that defines what I do.

There’s just something a little arrogant about it, don’t you think? 

It almost implies that you have life mastered and are now bestowing your great wisdom on those “less enlightened”. I honestly find it a tad presumptuous and gives the impression that as a coach I should have it all completely together, be totally zen and unphased by life’s ebbs and flows.

Yeah….nope, not there yet!

That’s why I refer to myself as a life design coach. 

I’m comfortable with that. 

I think of it like being an architect or a construction foreman – there to help bring your vision to life. 

Less like claiming that I can actually design your vision for you. Michelangelo or Leonardo I am not (not even the TMNT ones, iykyk).

2.The idea that coaches have all the answers

Let me just put it out there – we don’t! And I for one am very comfortable with the phrases “I don’t know”, “I have no idea”, “search me” and the like.

Honestly, that was one of the things that attracted me to Whole Person Coaching. 

One of its’ essential elements is the belief that the client is fully capable and has all the knowledge and answers they need inside and around them. 

As a coach, my job is simply to guide them and sometimes shine a light on the things they don’t see. 

That’s not me having answers, that’s me being the human equivalent of a service animal and a solar powered floodlight (because renewable energy is the future and service animals rock!)

3.The belief that there’s only one way to do something

I feel like this one needs a whole post of its own because genuinely, it’s at the core of my beliefs and the foundation of my very coaching model.

There is more than one way to skin a cat, people! 

I always laugh when I say that because who ever thought to skin a cat, why and how did they find out there was more than one way to do it?? Sorry, fascinating and worthy of further research but totally off topic!

Back to the point, just as there is no single way to show up as human, there is no single way to do this beautiful thing called life and I have words for anyone who says differently.

What worked for me may not come even close to working for you. In fact, what worked for me ten, five or two years ago might not work for me now!

The only constant in life is change and I think the true beauty of life is seeing not only all the gorgeous destinations out there but exploring the various routes to get you there and picking the most scenic, appropriate or whatever for you at any given point in time.

4.Coaches who believe they’re all things for all people

I’m not saying unicorns don’t exist but sightings are let’s say, extremely rare. 

As rare as the likelihood that one person can possibly relate to and be of service to everybody in all aspects of their life equally.

In short, I’m not buying it.

While coaching isn’t mentoring or consulting which both presuppose a certain understanding and expertise on the part of the coach that relates to the client’s specific needs, I believe to be your most effective as a coach you can’t be generic. 

You have to bring your secret sauce so you can show up most authentically for your clients. 

And what’s that secret sauce? Your lived experiences. The ones that make you uniquely you.

In my case, for example, it’s the fact that I spent years considering myself a rolling stone, a Jack of all trades and master of none (there’s an interesting theory about the rest of that phrase but that’s a story for another day) and basically a professional misfit. Never sure if I was non-committal, unmotivated or just not grown up yet. 

Turns out it was none of those. I’m multi-passionate and proud. I’m blessed to love learning and have the ability and means to try out my various passions and mix and match them to create my life.

That’s why I’m a life design coach for that type of person. 

Because I totally get it. I’m not going to waste my clients’ time trying to see things from their perspective or adjusting my world view. 

I already know where they’re coming from.

Those are my people.

I’m not saying I couldn’t coach other people, I totally could. But I’m at my best with and bring out the best in my people.

And I think it’s ok to be ok with that.

5.The lie that coaching and life will be all unicorns and rainbows

Life is hard. I just believe that it’s less hard when you choose which hard you’re going to pursue rather than having it forced on you.

Coaching isn’t a walk in the park. It is beautifully supportive and motivating when it needs to be but it can also be confronting and challenging in ways that will eventually change you for the better but suck at the time.

I had a client tell me that she was glad we only met once a week because by the time our hour was up she felt like she’d run a marathon and needed to catch her breath! But man, did she grow in those sessions!

Admitting there’s work to be done is hard. Doing the work is hard. Being changed when your circumstances and the people around you stay the same is hard. But at least when you’re choosing your hard you’re better equipped to tackle it.

So yes, those are some of the things that make me cringe about life coaching. 

What do you think? Anything you’d like to add to the list? 

Drop a note in the comments, I’d love to hear what you have to say!

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