Masterful Coaches Cause Problems...don't they?
I transcribed this from a call Feb 2004 by the
current leader of coachville. [about 31 minutes
"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
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
3. In my view, masterful coaches do not cause
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Nobody is getting transformed.
We're just finding out who we are in the journey
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
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
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
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
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
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
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