Monday, March 25, 2013

Life Coaching: One Size Does NOT Fit All

I was approached by a “Life coach” this morning who was pretty confident that he could help grow me personally and professionally.  Intrigued by his offer and how it was presented, I agreed to an initial 30-minute free consultation in the coffee shop where we had run into each other.

During the free consultation, this individual asked me to be as forthright as I could in regards to where my Life has been and then he would help outline a plan for my future.

“Sounds good”, I said and being a transparent person, I proceeded to outline:

1. Growing up in poverty in a town of 2,000 people and ending up as an award-winning consultant in NYC, not always knowing what I wanted but definitely knowing what I didn’t want.

2. Facing and overcoming a plethora of medical conditions, some of which had the potential to be fatal.

3. Walking away from four airplane “events”, some of which were rated by the pilots as being in the top three scariest events of their lives.

4. Having a perfect 4 - 0 record as the victim of muggings in NYC (although if I’m the winner, am I the victim?).

5. Founding / cofounding a number of companies and IPOing one of them.

6. My professional and personal involvement with various “interesting groups”, some of whom that are clandestinely focused on the safety of civilians.

7. Early-life encounters with pedophiles who failed with their intentions.

8. A young life filled with bullies.

9. Complex relationships, some successful and some not, personally and professionally.

10. My beliefs about our individual need and responsibility to serve the world.

11. My spiritual beliefs.

12. Stories of the 15 great friends I lost in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

13. What keeps me awake at night in regards to the security of our citizens and of the world.

I didn’t get to the really scary stuff.  I ran out of time and wasn’t sure if his mind would have survived the cranial defibrillator that would have resulted from sharing those stories.

When I had finished summarizing my Life, he was speechless for a moment and then stuttered and stammered his way through how he thought he could help me.

He didn’t do very well.

In fact, at the end of the conversation he admitted that my Life intimidated him.  I think the word he actually used was “frightened” and before we were done, he was asking me to be his Life coach.

Alas, time does not permit but I was flattered by the request.

This encounter reminded me that it is easy to assume (incorrectly) that people need fixing (as defined by the observer), that we must fix those people and that our approach, knowledge and Life context provide us with the tools and insight to accomplish this “repair” successfully.

We DO have value – just not to everyone

It is true that we all bring Life context and knowledge that is of value to someone and that we have a responsibility to serve others.

But let’s not assume that each of us has the obligation, the right and the ability to fix everyone.

Once we assume that we have a one-size-fits-all model that can heal and guide anyone, I suspect that it is easy for our humility to get lost in the hubris of our own self-perceived brilliance.

And when that happens, I believe that we lose sight of our opportunity to learn from others instead of assuming that everyone in the world is waiting to learn from us.

Are you still capable of learning from others or have you reached the pinnacle of your perfection?

How would others answer this question on your behalf?

How do you know?

In service and servanthood,



  1. Save me from the fixers! Part of maturity is learning to love your imperfections and not letting them rule your life or cause you to hurt others.

    Love the cranial defibrillator. Someone used to liken a conversation with me to a 'psychic enema'. Yours is a much nicer image!

  2. Psychic enema ... I love it. I'll have to remember that one when I am looking for greater shock value. :-)

    Thanks for your kind comment, Janice!

    Create a great day!