I have observed with interest and amusement lately as some of the people who I have encountered proclaim themselves to be experts on one thing or another. In many cases they point to absolutely no formal education or even training by any recognized institution, just a flash of self-actualization that has given them the confidence to proclaim that they can help others because of their new-found “expertise.”
Many of these people have started personal services businesses based around this expertise and have taken on the self-anointed title of “Coach” for whatever it is that they now feel is their life calling. Some are Health Coaches, some are Life Coaches; some proclaim themselves to be e-Marketing Coaches or Search Engine Optimization Coaches or Social Networking Coaches or maybe just Business Coaches. Almost none of them have college degrees in whatever it is that they are coaching and some may be inadvertently offering incorrect advice or potentially dangerous products out of ignorance of the field within which they have chosen to coach.
Now, I have nothing against someone with some proven and demonstrable skill or expertise trying to help someone else, even if they charge for it. However, I would like to see some proof of some level of education or training on the subject at hand. That education or training should also have more weight than some of the “certification” courses that I’ve seen in the real estate world. Someone who pays a couple of hundred bucks to sit through a day or two of classroom lectures that are mainly focused upon terminology and common sense advice should not be too prideful of the “Certified Whatever” that they are told they can use on their business cards because they attended the course.
Many of these coaches stress their role as an accountability partner for the person being coached. They take responsibility for the role that your mother or father or spouse used to have – cajoling you to actually do what you committed to do. There is a value in that, I suppose. I’m as guilty as the next person of letting myself off the hook occasionally on commitments. So if you just need someone to kick you in the behind to get you going, or keep you going, look for a coach.
I suppose that I could classify the mentoring that I do at the real estate office as a form of coaching; however, since real estate is a job with surprises and new learning experiences in every deal, I have never felt that I’ve had enough experiences in my 10+ years in the business to take on the self-proclaimed title of Coach. The role of Coach in a real estate brokerage is really vested in the Broker for that company and perhaps the senior office managers that are designated for each sales office. Maybe I could be an Assistant Coach in that setting.
Next time you meet one of these self-proclaimed coaches, maybe you should ask them, “So, Coach, what degrees do you have in this field or what training have you been through to prepare you for this role?” A good follow-up line might be, “Explain to me the methodology that you use in your coaching approach to this field.” If “the school of hard knocks” is the primary source of the expertise being claimed by the Coach and the methodology is that you just sit and talk about it with the coach; think about whether that is what you really need or not. If they claim that they will be bugging the heck out of you to meet the commitments that you make with them, be honest with yourself about whether you need that and want that.
There are some really good, well-educated or trained coaches out there in many fields. Make sure you know what kind of coach you are getting before you sign up to be on his/her team.