Sunday, March 15, 2009

Is Coaching Making A Difference?

According to a worldwide survey * (by an International Network of Social Scientists), happiness of people in industrialized nations has been completely flat since World War II. And believe it or not, based on the overall percentage of happy people, the United States is 16th on the list, behind countries like Nigeria (number 1), Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador and Puerto Rico.

How can that be? We are the United States - the economic leader of the free world. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to matter?

I practice in the industry that professes it has the ability to make all that better - the Coaching / Self-Help Industry. And even though, I will probably create a lot of angst from my peers on this blog, I have to admit that I think we are failing to "truly help" our clients - as an industry.

How else can there be thousands of books published monthly, and over $20Billion spent annually by people trying to improve their lives and / or their business and yet we're no better off than we were 60 years ago?

One of the questions I ask my clients all the time is "Is that working for you?"

So let's think about that question - does it make sense to spend $20Billion per year to generate the same results you had before you started spending the money? And if the answer is "No", then the next question is . . . "What are you going to do about it?"

That means, if you ask me, there are a lot of coaches and self-help gurus out there that need to be fired.

Oh, wait a minute, they are getting fired. In fact the average turnover for clients in the coaching industry is 4 months? And the average time that someone stays focused on a self-help program after they attend a seminar or read about in a book is just over a week.

But yet they keep coming back for more. . . (hence the $20Billion annually). So there is a market, but not a solution - at least one that is making things better.

Many argue that it's the client's fault, they haven't committed enough. And they say, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink." But I think if you ask most clients they will tell you that's why the coach was hired to begin with. If they knew how to drink the water on their own, they wouldn't have hired the coach to begin with. It's not a matter of teaching the client where the water is but instead getting them to understand that they are thirsty at all and getting them to want to drink the water they need to drink, not the water that is making them sick.

I believe Leadership and Coaching is getting people to do what they don't want to do, don't know how to do, or are afraid to do, so they can BE who they want to BE.

And the truth is it's easy to coach a good client, just like it's easy to lead a good follower. But the greatest leaders figure out how to get even the worst followers to follow them and get them to want to do it. So, I think it's time for the coaching and self help industry to shit or get off the pot.

It's time for us to show some real value.

I'm curious, what do you think?

* The survey I reference was done in 2003. Some may argue that more current data may indicate differently, but from other surveys I've read about more recently the same statistics ring true. The reason I didn't use a more current survey, is most people would try to blame current market / economic conditions rather than looking at the failure of the industry that claims to be fixing the problem.

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