There are over 160 life coaches registered in yellow pages in Melbourne for example, (perhaps hundreds unlisted) and coach-training companies are consistently expanding. It is the second fastest growing profession in US and Australia is following suit. There are an estimated 40,000 coaches worldwide and the profession is increasing at nearly 20% per year.
Yet the challenges that face most coaches are once their training is complete. It becomes a lonely journey, resting on their efforts alone - to develop their skills, to expand their practice, to become more valuable to the marketplace... Coaches are isolated from one another. While some are successful at it, the profession as a whole is definitely not at a level where it could and should be at.
The problem that most coaches have is in a way a catch 'twenty-two'. To have a successful practice, they need many paying clients. To have many clients, they need the skills, credibility and experience… Since one cannot build the skills and experience without clients, from within this system, life coaches often end up into a reinforcing loop that then just amplifies this initial problem.
And this reinforcing dilemma, not only applies to the personal success of coaches, but the bigger perspective of 'life coaching' as a profession itself:
- What is life coaching's real potential in adding full value to society?
The Higher Resolve
I absolutely love life coaching, and I know its potential for its development in this century will be enormous. But as Albert Einstein noted, ‘the significant problems we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them’.
To recognize a better resolution, we need a higher mode of thinking, than the one we employed when we created the problem to begin with. For the way in which we currently understand a problem, is the problem.
I would like to suggest that a better resolve comes from addressing this problem beyond the 'independent motivations'. It is established in what Peter Drucker refers to, as 'the second essential characteristic of effective executives, - they focus on outward contribution.'
He suggests there are two orientations that the majority of people have, in respect to their vocational choice:
• The first orientation is where the environment and other people direct what one is to be, do and have. This is also the level which Steven Covey refers to as 'dependence'.
However, while independence is positively a higher level of human functioning than dependence, - this is also the level where dilemmas are created. This independence level - where the awareness between what others want and what you want is made clearly visible, - becomes a playground for predicaments. One becomes 'push-pulled' internally between these two choices, and life soon mirrors the effect of these contradictory forces.
From my own personal experience, and in talking with many coaches this is the level that most coaches start from. Most are 'masters of independence'. As the life-coaching training itself is set upon the foundation of 'What do you want?', 'What are your goals?', - most coaches become adept at making 'independent choices'…
Yet as Peter Drucker's research shows, - seldom do independent motivations result into high personal effectiveness.
A higher question, - one that integrates the dilemma of 'inner and outer' - is to ask, 'What can I contribute?' It is a question that reveals one's strengths, one's talents, - and seeks to grow them, through what one gives to society in their work. It looks from the perspective of contribution and meaning, - and it is a sure recipe for high effectiveness.