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Is Life Coaching a Scam?

Getting Real about the Coaching Industry and What to Watch Out For

When I first got serious about writing, I finished a project and decided to hire an editor. And not an editor who was my mom or my old English teacher. I wanted to hire a pro. A certified editor. Someone who had gone to editing school and knew everything.

Unfortunately, as I found out, there is no editing school. No official editor certification. Only reputations and reviews. 

However, that doesn’t mean that all editing is a scam or that there is no such thing as a professional editor. It just means that you have to do your due diligence before hiring someone.

It’s kind of the same thing with coaching. There are some organized bodies that offer certifications, but there’s no standardized structure for a coach’s education. So, how do you know whether coaching is a scam?

Some Coaching is a Scam

There are plenty of people in this world who are out to take your money, and unfortunately, without that standardized education system, anyone can declare themselves a coach. So, if you’re looking for a real coach, here are some things to look for.

Know What to Look For

  • Look for their results. You can find results in the forms of reviews and testimonials, articles written by or about them in professional publications, and data they may have on their business. The coach you’re looking at should have some type of result to demonstrate that they are doing what they promised and succeeding at it.
  • Look for their style. Make sure the coach you’re looking at offers what you need. Are they specialized (i.e., personal trainers or career coaches), or do they focus on the whole person?
  • Check out their process. Ideally, they have a website or some way you can read up on their philosophy and process. See if it jives with what you know about coaching, and watch out for inconsistencies or things that may seem inappropriate.
  • Talk to their clients. Ideally, you know someone who knows someone. Many coaches gain their clientele through word-of-mouth, so if that’s how you found out about your prospective coach, then take the time to interview the person who recommended them. Learn about the process, any red flags, and the results.
  • Talk to the coach. It’s more than okay to ask to interview a coach first. If they are serious, they will want to interview you as well. This is a great way to detect any misgivings or bad vibes that may be warning you to stay away. It’s also a good way to detect chemistry and the potential for success.

Make Sure You are Ready

Another important way to keep from losing money on coaching is to make sure you are ready. 

First of all, do you have goals? They can be specific or broad, but you should have a direction you want to head before hiring a coach.

Are you coachable? In other words, are you prepared for the hard lessons? Are you ready for feedback that might not be what you want to hear but that can help you overcome any obstacles between you and your goals? If so, then you’re ready, and you’ll make the most out of your coaching experience. 

Watch Out for False Promises

No coach should be making specific promises about what their coaching can get you. They shouldn’t be saying things like, “I’ll get your pay doubled in a year.” They shouldn’t be promising, “You’ll finally find love,” or, “The weight will fall right off.”

They should be honest about the work necessary to get you where you want to be. They should let you set the goals and expectations and hold you accountable to them. Your results are your responsibility, with or without a coach.

What you can expect from a coach is:

  • Support when you need to talk out an issue
  • Accountability to make sure you live up to your own promises to yourself
  • Feedback–often in the form of directly pointing out what’s standing in your way

Don’t Scam Yourself

Writing a check won’t get you to your goals. There is no easy button! Be sure you haven’t built up the coach as a cure-all for everything that’s in your way. Don’t talk yourself into believing that you can passively absorb whatever the coach tells you and magically start radiating positive results.

A good coach is there to offer guidance and accountability, but you’re the one who’s still going to have to do the work of managing your life.

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