I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about the prevalence of life coaches and other professionals who aim to guide others toward reaching their goals or finding psycho-spiritual wellness. He was feeling concerned that there has been a certain commodification of personal growth. While I agreed that this is one facet of how we’ve treated personal growth, I believe that on the whole the notion that we can change who we are has been good for us.
The fundamental issue is that humans suffer. We feel overwhelmed, lost, fearful, confused, alone, angry, sad, etc. This suffering has been compounded by a trend toward disconnection from our foundations. Overall, humans have less of an everyday connection to nature, spirituality, and other humans than in the past. So, there has always been a need for help, and this need has become more acute recently.
Meanwhile, there has also been a trend in the last several decades toward more open discussion on the human psyche, spirit, and potential. We’re freer than ever to speak about our thoughts and feelings, and we explore perspectives from other cultures. We’re more willing than previous generations to see things in a new way, update our customs, change careers, and become someone different than we’ve been. Thus, more than ever we have people who feel a calling to assist others in these ways. Do they deserve to be compensated for their help? I say yes.
The ubiquity of such helpers is a good thing. There are a lot of people needing help. Further, the prevalence of such guides has made everyone up their game. No longer is an exotic outfit or accent qualification enough to be a guru. Consumers are more savvy. And a wonderful byproduct of the expansion of the personal growth field is that it’s not limited to a particular socioeconomic class. There is an incredible abundance of free and cheap resources out there – articles, podcasts, books, videos, and support groups.
If you are able to work one-on-one with a coach you resonate with, there are lots of good reasons to do it:
Accountability: Often we don’t hold ourselves accountable for what we say we’re going to do and who we say we want to be. Having someone else to track us and remind us to stay on course is often all it takes for us to follow through.
Wisdom: A great coach has learned some things, and many can tap into a repository of wisdom that goes well beyond their personal experience.
Holding Space: A good coach knows how to hold a container in which their clients can safely experience whatever they’re struggling with, explore and unravel their challenges, and find their way to healing, growth, and evolution.
Seeing Your Patterns of Dysfunction: One of the most useful functions a coach can serve is pointing out what you can’t see, like the way you keep sabotaging good jobs, or how to don’t maintain healthy boundaries in relationships. We can’t fix what we don’t see.
Seeing Your Light: Often we have no problem seeing what’s “wrong” with us; the real hurdle is seeing what’s right. A good coach is there to point out your gifts, your value, your potential, and all the ways you’re managing with grace.
Hand Holding: While this is a role many a good friend has performed, it’s another thing coaches can do for us. Sometimes we know where we want to go, we know what we need to do, but we just feel intimidated. Having someone hold our hand through it may feel like a silly thing to ask for, but if it gets us to do what we’re here to do, it’s an invaluable service.
Wishing you the guide who will coax out your greatness,