"The unedited musings of a recovering madman"

Masterful Coaches Cause Problems...don't they?


I transcribed this from a call Feb 2004 by the current leader of coachville. [about 31 minutes in...]

"our job as coaches, I would say...

Beginner coaches solve problems...

Intermediate coaches collaborate

Masterful coaches cause problems

The masterful coach will call you to disrupt your life...to take on a challenge that your comfort zone will allow...


I'll give this person the benefit of the doubt and say they mean well, but meaning well and leading a large, supposedly the largest coaching organization in the world are two different things in my view.

1. I don't like the way this person breaks down coaching, although as coaches are observed, this may be presently true in practice. But in my view outlines the distinctions that support my contention that what people are calling coaches are nothing more than re-labled consultants.

2. The distinctions the person is making seems to lack a stratified approach, lumping people into categories based on a set of motives, versus a reflection of a progression of awareness.

What I mean by this is the failure to not only understand coaching and to in large part misrepresent what coaching really can do that is different than consulting, but also "lumps" people together in bands that are attempting to homgenize development and run people through a "carwash".

3. In my view, masterful coaches do not cause problems.

Again, I'll give this person the benefit of the doubt because I'm sure they mean well, but this whole idea of transformation coaching, shocking people out of their comfort zones, BHAGs, all that stuff is just rhetoric and lacks the understanding of how people change and grow for the most part.

There is no question that people are forced to change when confronted with big problems, but is that what we want to become known for?

Not me.

Mastery to me is much more spiritual than the approach of a motivational speaker.

Mastery is MUCH more difficult than people will know and admit.

Hence the reason that ICF grandfathered a whole cadre of Master Certified Coaches in the beginning of ICF. I still have my application, number 101. I took one look at it and said, this is not good for the industry...and it has cost me thousands, if not millions of dollars for not joining the "in" crowd.

The same thing happened when we reviewed the ICF accredidation for B\Coach.

If you really look at the competencies, they are nothing more than consulting and advising...in a lot of cases not actionable as practiced by so many people, who at the time were grandfathered didn't even have to abide by these competencies, were NEVER evaluated on these competencies, but now represent these competencies. I think ICF has around 1100 certified coaches, of those, my guess is that more than 900 are grandfathered in some way or another.

I'm sorry, this flies in the face of principle for me.

Just like the coaching descriptions above "thrown" out off the cuff by this "leader."

While I do not begrudge the ICF (I've been a member since 95), or for that matter this leader to think and say what they believe, when I see arguments about regulating coaching, I see the best case for regulation coming from the very people currently regulating it, or claiming to establish the standard.

In my lifetime, I hope to revolutionize coaching, in all forms.

I mean everyone from the little league soccer coaches to professional sports coaching to executive coaching and what not.


Because the approach currently used by most coaches is nothing more than telling people what to do and people need and often want more from leaders.

In order to bring spirituality into coaching, one has to understand what almost all spiritual practices show that are truly spiritual practices towards mastery of spirit and that is the ability to differentiate one's self from their own subjectivity, to become aware and to choose.

The coachville leader started the conversation out with the thought that people become a coach to help others and that is to enter the greatest journey of consciousness...or something to that effect.

Well, I've watched people go into coaching for about 17 years, including myself and basically coaching is about telling other people what to do. Lots of people enter coaching, but the main reason is to get their own needs met. In my view, that creates problems with consciousness, or at the bare minimum perpetuates the problems of unconsciousness, not close to the reason that this leader gave. Most coaches like to say this because it keeps them up on the pedestal they need to support their ego needs.

Most people I know who are coaches are not the slightest bit interested in developing themselves, except to serve another need, not for the journey of consciousness claimed by the coachville talking head. Some of you are truly the exception. I honor you.

Development takes oodles of energy and effort.

It is hard to face one's self day after day and realize not very much has changed except a bit of window dressing (espoused theory) or to notice that as long as we think about it, we appear to have changed, but in the end, put a little pressure in the kettle and we realize no change has occurred.

TOO MANY PEOPLE make light of development.

This example segues me back to the coaching stuff.

There are times when I really look inward at our work and try to find a concillatory response but it comes down to capitualation. Some people say you can change more from the inside than from the outside, but I don't think I'm developed enough in SunTzu or something.

Telling other people what to do is not going to create capability.

It may create performance, but in the long run, no growth in consciousness.

Now, I do realize very few are interested in growing consciousness, that is becoming more clear over time.

John Peterson at the Arlington Institute made a very practial comment, one which I have not always agreed with...

Paraphrased: "since we're not going to reverse the present course of action (speaking about the way the world is going)...we're going to have to rely on innovating ourselves out of the problems"

The jist of the story is...people aren't going to change very fast or in the wholesale manner that some claim will happen if we just get 1/10th of 1% of the consciousness to a certain level. Fields of consciousness have delicate balances for sure, but they like other energy fields will coexist, not override, as we've seen.

Ok, if they aren't going to change, then why do we try to change people, transform them?

I think because it is easier to transform someone else instead of your self.

We know it can be done, we've seen it, many of us have had transformational moments...?

However, I think what we're labeling is transformation is more like...well, if we had that to do over again, we'd now, knowing what we know now, wouldn't do that again. Most people are calling this kind of insight a transformation...and perhaps it is, but the basic wiring, the infrastructure, the functional maps, the desire profile is all still there...what has transformed?

Our awareness or subject/object relationship and even this is hard-pressed to change.

Ok, I'll concede this might qualify for transformation or a shift in consciousness, but in my view, it is nothing more than the facts of removing some embeddedness, nothing really transformed. Energy can't be created or destroyed, or so they say. There is no evidence of a great transformation taking place. If there were one, problems that are occurring would be viewed differently, not through a downshift in behavior...yet look around you. When things start to go wrong, what sense of peace is there? There is only more chaos brought about by self-determination...of the lowest form--towards survival. Face it, we're just people, who have a right to be who we are.

If we get off the transformation bandwagon and stop worrying about causing problems (as coaches)...we might begin to work with people actionably, not just those who claim to want transformation (or the people who want things in one fell swoop, us quantum changers<G>).

In my view, masterful coaches participate in an interaction that serves people being coached to peel their own onion--to peel away the layers of not knowing, of subjectivity to discover and enjoin who they really are in performing or developing whichever the person being coached chooses.

Nobody is getting transformed.

We're just finding out who we are in the journey of life.

NO, masterful coaches don't have to cause problems, especially disrupting people's lives because they get their cookies by watching people scream about transformation, ahas and the like.

I think coaching for the most part has gotten itself into a double bind.

By mislabeling what it is really doing, thus creating a new service which is not new at all, we've shot ourselves in the foot. Second, I think because there is no coherent model of coaching that is not a consulting model, that all we've done is differentiate consulting, which by the way, the ICF claims that coaching is consulting, as I've noted previously in my rants.

One of the reasons that I formed the "developmentalist" designation was to distance what we do from coaching, yet it's WAY too far out in front of most people and what they want.

As pressure increases on developed society to suffer it's own cycle of problems brought about by it's solutions, people are going to gravitate more and more to "quick fixes." One, because they HAVE to, the other because the attention span is so low on bandwidth because of complexity that working through a causal chain will take more energy than there is available.

So, what am I saying?

Why did I write this?

Perhaps in some way to show you that what we are doing is different than consulting.

Not that there is anything wrong with consulting, however it is misleading to ourselves and others if we are nothing but consultants.

As we perfect our model, which is happening...we have a very distinctive approach to high leverage in a short period of time, you might say we have the microwave model that people are looking for....

Yet, it requires significant dedication to personal development and mastery to get good at it...that is the opportunity.

It's not "all" about stirring up stuff and causing problems. In fact, that would require discipline which so many of these masters claim to have...to resist problem solving, to resist disruption.

It's about an actionable approach to serving a person being coached to expand, differentiate, refine and grow their capability to not only solve, but PREVENT problems. This is the key that most of you don't see yet.

Masterful coaches don't create problems, they PREVENT THEM.

The leader has it all backwards...because he is bought into the "fixit" crowd of consulting where people get paid to deal with problems.

I get paid to prevent them!

What about you?


"coach training for everyone"

Mike R. Jay
1132 13th Ave
Mitchell, NE

On The Professional Edge