Why I don’t think so
Over the past few months, I have received a number of emails from individuals who believe that coaches in general (and that includes me) are aiming the content of their blogs, articles and programmes at people who are already successful, but are somehow just temporarily, and somewhat inconveniently, experiencing a little glitch on the golden conveyor to the dizzy heights of their professional pyramid. They feel that these ideas don’t reach or apply to the average person stuck in their jobs, the ones who feel that they are living in “quiet desperation” to quote Thoreau. They believe coaching is elitist.
Janie B, says “Dorothy, I love your blog it is filled with humor and good tips and really accessible. But I think you are talking about high-flying, talented people who can afford coaches. What do ordinary people like me do who can’t? I’m stuck in a job I hate…. I don’t excel at anything and there’s no way out.”
I have to consider those comments seriously. What Janie B and others are suggesting is that coaching principles cannot be equally applied and are therefore undemocratic.
How green is your grass?
Let’s give this a global perspective. We should take into account that the message writers (including Janie B) are literate, highly educated and clearly have internet access ( 80% of Americans have broadband access, Japanese 75%), then they are probably already in global terms, better positioned than a large percentage of the world population, who do not. Nigeria for example has 7.4% internet penetration. So to that extent, some modern coaching channels blogs, web sites, webinars etc) can appear to be elitist and focus on people living in advanced industrial economies who can tap into modern communication methods. Janie and the other message writers, despite what they think, are already in a global elite. That is something often forgotten when examining other people’s grass.
But real coaching is not related to modern technology, or for a select, wealthy few. Some of the greatest philosophers and thinkers from Seneca, Plato to Gandhi and Einstein not just in our time, but throughout history, have eschewed material goods on their path to personal development and spiritual enlightenment. Neither did they have internet connections. Nor were they on Twitter or YouTube. Would they have in different times used these media? Strong possibility – they were all communicators. However, their legacy is time-honoured thoughts, that are applicable in all our lives and have nothing to do with technological advancement and superficial successes, whether economically or professionally. In fact many certainly rejected the latter.
So although working with a coach can be hugely beneficial, do I think that most coaching techniques are democratic and can be universally applied and available, regardless of where we are financially, professionally, in our relationships or lives?
Yes I do.
“If you think the grass is greener on the other side, try watering your lawn”
When people feel trapped in their jobs, there is a tendency to offer bumper sticker type solutions. But no plastering your office wall or refrigerator with ‘post its’ or magnets containing the latest positive thoughts will help make your grass greener long-term. They are of limited short-term value, like tending your lawn with a water pistol. I’m not suggesting a water cannon would do – but just more of a garden sprinkler type of activity. Timely, systematic and measured.
So what can you do if you have the privilege of living in an advanced economy and feel stuck in your job or your life? How do you achieve something you feel passionate about – for free?
Here are just a very few suggestions:
- Check out your life and professional goals. Are they aligned? Usually I have found that this is the root of the problem. If you could change your life what would it look like? How do you look? Is it really the job that bothers you or something else? Be honest, tough if you have to.
- Manage your negative thoughts
- List the challenges you’ve had in your life. What skills did you use to deal with them? What were your success stories? These are your transferable skills .
- What don’t you like about your job? Why? Is there anything about your job you like? List those points. What skills do the good points require?
- Make a mission statement. You know from a previous post that even CEOs struggle with this.
- Set yourself some goals and objectives. They need to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound ( SMART)
- Take courses: on-line, night school, open university, start a blog , join Twitter or LinkedIn. There are so many ways these days to add to your personal development and they cost very little. If you don’t have internet access go to your local public library.
- Volunteer. There are also different ways to achieve goals outside a professional arena.
- Set up a job search or life plan with lots of small incremental steps to achievement. Reward yourself when you succeed.
- Cherish yourself and those near to you! Ask for their support and feedback
- Look after your health and exercise. Walk every day.
Cost to date…. ZERO.
Who can you add to the list?