Interview: Life Coaching on Penn & Teller's "Bullshit!"
On Friday, 1/21/05, I spent (an intense and grueling) 10 hours being interviewed
and filmed coaching two clients (one by phone and one in person).
<Click here for some pics from the filming.> The filming was for a segment on life coaching which begins airing in May on Penn & Teller's Showtime series, "Bullshit!"
The show has been nominated for a few Emmy's, apparently has a large
and intelligent following, and is going into its third season.
Pretty much, they do their comedic bit and their conclusion, as far as
I can tell, for whichever topic they cover, is that, "It's
Bullshit." That is, after all, the whole premise for the
show. So, in short, I'll be appearing on a show where the
conclusion will most likely be that, "Life Coaching is Bullshit," and
on which I'll probably be the butt of their jokes. Odds are that the program is going
to try to refute that coaching provides real, tangible results that one
couldn't achieve on their own...and/or that life coaches are charlatans in
an illegitimate profession....
I do respect and admire the way they attempt to get people thinking
about many things we take for granted, questioning our assumptions
and the truthfulness of the (mis)information that our society/media bombards us with
daily. Still, I initially felt "set up to fail," that I'd be used to disparage my colleagues and profession, and told
the producer that I wouldn't do it. After
considerable deliberation and some coaching, however, I saw the
opportunity in this and decided to appear on the show. Not for
me, nor even for my coaching colleagues, but for a higher purpose....
In short, I'm willing to be publicly humiliated, for the
opportunity to get a message out to thousands (perhaps millions), for
the sake of all of us and the planet. I trust that, regardless of
what's said on the show, how I or coaching is portrayed, that some
portion of my message will make it through to the intelligence of
people...and that the Truth of what's possible and how we're evolving
how we live on this planet will prevail. (Copernicus wasn't exactly
welcomed with open arms, either! But, almost all significant
societal/evolutionary change seems to happen first "on the fringes,"
and resisted by the mainstream...until, of course, it becomes mainstream.)
What follows are the interview questions that I was given by the
producer for the show (and my responses). The portion of these
responses that actually get aired will be a subset of what you read
here--chosen, of course, by their sole discretion--based, I would
guess, on entertainment value. (After the filming, I'm completely
out of the picture and I have no say whatsoever in which portions of
what they filmed get aired on the actual program.) Also, due to
the time constraints and nervousness of being on camera, I didn't
manage to actually get all these words out of my mouth. I wish I
had! Because, regardless of what actually ends up being aired on
the program, I believe what you read below represents the most accurate
and complete truth of my day-to-day, first hand professional
experience with these topics as of January, 2005.
PTBS-1: What is life coaching?
Rich: Life coaching is a revolutionary, new type of professional
relationship. It's difficult to convey the essence of the
coaching relationship with words. Here's why: Imagine trying to
explain to a 7 year old what an adult romantic relationship is.
No matter how well you describe it, the only way someone will really
know what "being in love" is like is to experience a love relationship
first hand. This is why most coaches offer free sample sessions:
So that prospective clients can experience coaching for
That said, let me take a shot with words: Life coaching is a
extremely effective professional partnership, with coach and client
working together as equals, to consciously design (from the ground up)
the relationship that will best meet the needs, desires and aspirations
of that particular client--especially with respect to creating the
client's highest vision and ideal life experience.
of course, will look
different for each person. That is, each coaching relationship is
and customized for each client...and, as with a love relationship, how you experience it will be at least slightly different from how someone else experiences it.
You may have also noticed that it took you some time to figure out just
how to be your best and get the most out of a romantic
relationship. It's similar with the coaching relationship.
Since it's so rare to have a relationship that's intentionally focused completely on
you, one that you can really use any way you want and continually mold to best suit
you, it takes most people a few months to figure out "how to use the attention," and thereby fully access the potential available from this new type of relationship.
And, whereas people typically notice significant and even profound
shifts from the start in "the things" of their life situation, it
usually takes 3 months for the coaching to start transforming the
person. This can look like dismantling limiting beliefs and rigidified patterns of
thinking or behavior, learning how to be conscious of and manage your
inner critic/saboteur, building new competencies and strategies for
living more effectively and joyfully, and shifting how you're relating to the situations and people in your life. In general,
after awhile the person being coached starts replacing old, less powerful ways with more conscious choice and
creativity, more liberating perspectives, and more skillful personal
habits/strategies for creating his or her goals, dreams, and the best
possible life experience they can envision.)
PTBS-2: Who needs a life coach?
Rich: Who needs a life coach? Let me try to answer it this way: Living
next to a school, I often listen to the children at recess. I
hear such an uninhibited outpouring of joy and laughter and spontaneous
singing from them...and never-ending creativity, passion and
imagination in coming up with new ways to play and enjoy the moment. Life is
In a workshop I attended last week, I heard this statistic: "Only 1 out
of 8 adults love their jobs and are truly happy with their
lives." So, 80-90% of us have lost the joy, imagination and magic
of life we were born into. People who seek out life coaches often
know, intuitively, that they _can_ regain that childlike joy,
passion and magic in their lives, but they either don't know how to go
about it, or they can't seem to keep themselves focused and in action.
So, I'd say it's less a question of "need" rather than a question of
"desire" and unlimited possibility: Who could YOU become...what could
YOU create with your life...if you had the optimal, skilled and
experienced partner...and the two of you focused co-actively every week
to envision and create your ideal self and life experience.... (If you had
regular assignments designed to move you forward in the direction of
the most satisfying and passion-filled life experience you could
imagine...and someone naturally gifted and professionally trained to hold you accountable for taking those
actions, help you to learn from your failures, re-strategize and
move past any blocks you hit, etc...?)
Some questions you might ask yourself to determine if coaching might be of value to you:
- Is your life magical?
- Do you know why you're here?
- Are you giving your gifts regularly and using them to create your highest vision?
- Are you at abundant peace with yourself, your life, and the world?
- Are your needs for connection, expressing yourself, and being listened to/heard met consistently?
- Are you satisfied and proud of the impact you have on your family/community/organization/world? Of the legacy you'll leave behind when you're gone?
- Are you living your life so fully today that you'll have no regrets if you die tomorrow?
- Is the pace of your life such that you feel a balanced and relaxed clarity?
- Do you have ample time for reflection, healthy
downtime/rejuvenation, vacation/play/fun, family/relationship, your
hobbies/passions, and whatever else is truly important to you?
- Do you know what your core values are and what is truly important to you--not in your mind, but in your heart?
- Are you living your life in alignment with these such that you're
experiencing a state of fulfillment most of the time, even when things
- Are you experiencing yourself as a leader in a significant area
of life (ie, using your talents, skills and intelligence to organize
the willfully contributed talents/skills/intelligence of others for a
- Do you know/believe that you can have all these things and more?
- Do you want a life enriched with these things--I mean, really no kidding want these things? Today?!?
PTBS-3: There are several tv shows about life coaching,
and celebrities are now hiring personal life coaches. To what do you
attribute the increasing popularity of life coaching?
Rich: That's a fantastic question! Yes, why would celebrities, who have
all the money they can spend and all the fame and material possessions
anyone could want, waste time with a life coach? I'll tell you
why: Because our souls are parched. We're wandering around this
spiritual desert called "America," the wealthiest and most powerful
nation on the planet, and our souls are dying of thirst....
And all the things that we've been taught will make us happy--the
money, the success, the relationship, the power, the toys, the physical
pleasures--are just like glass after glass of salt water to us.
They look delicious and we work so hard to get them. They even
taste good going down and quench our thirst for a short while.
But, in the end, they just make us thirstier and thirstier. We
get locked into this never-ending addictive cycle with no genuine,
lasting satisfaction or fulfillment.
Coaching brings consciousness to this madness, and digs deeper:
Who are you really? What will truly bring long-term fulfillment,
joy, passion and magic to your life...and quench the thirst in your
soul? That's what the celebrities are after with life
coaching. If the riches, pleasures, material possessions and fame truly satisfied, they wouldn't
waste their time with coaching.
The reason I'm here today, on a show that I'm likely to end up looking
pretty full-of-shit on ("Bull" or other) is to get the message to
you--the person sitting in your chair--that the hole most of us have
been taught to
dig in for our happiness holds no real treasure, no matter how fast,
long, hard or deep you
dig. What you're really after is not down there! If it
were, why would so many of our planet's brightest stars and celebrities
have died so young from drug overdoses and such, instead of living long
lives of peace, joy and contentment with all they've achieved and
A coach can help you move over a few feet and start digging a new
just above where your true treasure lies. This is what all humans
are thirsty for: real peace, genuine and lasting fulfillment, and
growthful and passion-filled life that they can see is making a
meaningful difference (as measured through their own core
values). People don't want to die with
their real music still in them--even the rock stars! This is why
coaching is so
popular and will continue to increase in popularity.
PTBS-4: When and how did you get into the coaching field?
Rich: What I learned in the first coaching training that I did was that, "Coaches are born not made." And I believe this:
Actually, I've been coaching since high school. I was coming in
before school, on my own, meeting with other students and helping them
with whatever they were struggling with. I have memories, many
memories, of getting calls the night before an exam, and being up till
2am walking someone through a Chaucer poem, a geometry proof, or whatever.
It took longer, because I would only give the answer as a last resort. I
would respond, instead, with questions to help them access their own
intelligence. I wanted them to truly learn, to learn how they
learned best, and feel the pride and confidence of having mastered something
they thought was beyond them. Then, they could take that with them to
all their future classes and I could get some sleep!
tho, I think I was born with an innate faith in the inner wisdom and
unlimited abilities in everyone--the knowledge that your answers for
your life, or at least the ability to find them, are within you.
As a result of this innate knowing and the genuine intention to see
people realize and be empowered by this, I was coaching before
I even knew what coaching was...and before "coaching" itself even
existed as a profession.
Same thing through college (the university actually paid me for this)
and afterwards. Even when I was working professionally as a
computer engineer designing microprocessors during the day, I would be
up late helping someone with their relationship, with a crisis or special challenge, to
figure out what they wanted to do with their life, make a career
change, whatever. Successful as I was as an engineer (and after
that, a teacher), I finally realized that "who I am" and "who I've
always been" is "a coach." Somehow, others knew this before I
did, since they've intuitively sought me out for as long as I can
remember. The next logical step for me was to align my career
with my true nature and natural gifts.
Having made two (or three, depending on how you count) career
while figuring this out has been instrumental in my helping others to
discover "who they really are" and to align their lives and careers
with their true nature and natural gifts. I understand, from
first person experience, what the "career transition" process really is...not just at the
practical and intellectual levels, but, most importantly, at the
internal and emotional levels. It's the fear and other internal
hurdles (emotional blocks, limiting beliefs, inner critic voice, etc.)
stop most people from finding their authentic selves and living their
PTBS-5: Tell us about your background and experience.
Rich: In addition to coaching non-professionally since high school, I've been
coaching professionally for almost 5 years now. As with any
profession, the way you really get good at it is "on the job." I
learn so much from my clients, and they're my main teachers.
I also completed the full curriculum at The Coaches Training Institute,
as well as doing workshops and courses with Coach University,
CoachVille, the late Thomas Leonard (the founder of Coach University
and CoachVille). I met weekly with Laura Whitworth (one of
the founders of The Coaches Training Institute, the Co-Active Space
Leadership program, and The Bigger Game Company) and some other top
coaches for two years...learning and helping refine a next-generation
leadership coaching model called "The Bigger Game." After that, I
worked as a ghost writer for Laura and wrote the first draft of "The
Bigger Game" book...which is a step-by-step manual for becoming a
"Martin Luther King" with your dream.
PTBS-6: What training is needed to become a life coach?
Rich: Since coaching is a new profession, it's currently unregulated.
So, yes, anyone can hang out a shingle and call themselves a coach.
But, since almost all clients come by way of referral, only the coaches
that can consistently help clients achieve real results in their lives
will be able to maintain a practice. Coaches who truly love what
they do, and are really serious about becoming the best they can be at
their profession, will not only seek out the best professional training
available at the top schools, but will also commit themselves to
continual learning for the rest of their lives. Again, true coaches do
this neither for credentials nor to win over potential clients, but because they LOVE it!
PTBS-7: What types of clients do you attract (younger/older, creative, married/single, etc.,--demographics?)
Rich: I work with clients from every demographic. I mostly attract
leaders, coaches, those on a spiritual path, teens, parents, and folks who
want to make a significant transition or improve their relationships.
Since I work with teens as well, I've coached people from age 17 to
those in their 60s...in all different professions and income
levels...here in my home town, and as far away as India and New Zealand.
(Most coaching is done by phone.) I have clients that are millionaires and clients who are
struggling to pay their bills each month. I have a client who's a
Hollywood actress who you may have seen on the big screen (and
definitely will in the future), another who's an engineer working
himself into a position of executive leadership, and others who are
parents of an exceptional and gifted teenager with special challenges. I've also
mentor coached several coaches, and two of my current clients are
coaches. My passion and area of expertise is, "people."
PTBS-8: With what types of concerns/issues do you help your clients?
Rich: What types of concerns/issues challenge, or are irresistibly attractive,
to you right now...? I help people with stuff just
most important to them on that day, or in this particular phase of their lives. Since this is "life
coaching," the list is as varied as people's lives are. Larger
areas of focus for
the teens, adults, families and groups I work with include:
• Reclaiming the Magic of Life!
• Leadership Development and Creating Large Scale Change
• Spiritual Path/Liberation/Enlightenment
• Taking Your Life Back: School/Work/Life Balance, Stress Reduction, Fun/Play/Free Time
• Defining, Envisioning and Creating a Dream or Vision
• Clarity and Skillful Decision Making for Long-term Fulfillment
• Values-based Prioritization and Sustained Focus on What's Truly Important
• Emotional Health and Well Being
• Becoming a Powerful and Successful Coach
• Career Transition/Renewal, Starting Your Own Business
• Overcoming Rigid/"Uncontrollable" Patterns of Behavior and Thought
• Study Skills/Life Skills/Art of Living
• Life Path/Transition to Adulthood (for teens)
PTBS-9: What's the most unusual or outrageous concern you've coached someone on?
Rich: Since coaching is focused on evolving you...either in terms of self or
life wisdom or building new competencies, most things I'm working with
people on are both unusual and outrageous for them. One of my
current clients, in her 40's, just wrote me that she's had
conversations with her husband, children and friends that she never
would have dared attempt before. If you've spent most of your
life pleasing others, avoiding confrontation and taking on other
people's battles, then setting boundaries and standing up for what you
really want, need, and believe in is going to feel quite
outrageous...at least the first few times.
If you're in your 60's, have never been in a position of leadership or
in a prison before, but decide that "making a difference" with your life
means "transforming the culture of hatred and violence in the prisons,"
then it's going to be quite an unusual (although exhilarating)
experience. One of my clients did just that, and last I heard
from her, she was working weekly with teams of staff and other allies
she's built in both the Rhode Island and Colorado State Prisons.
Humans seek comfort and ease. It's natural for us to live our
lives within our comfort zones. Yet, if something's comfortable,
easy and routine for you, there's probably not much growth and learning
in it for you. You already know how to do it. So, if you're someone who's looking to evolve
yourself, you will tell your coach to push you into unusual and outrageous
territory. You might be surprised to learn that, for many people, this means doing less, rather than more! After awhile, you may actually start challenging yourself to choose
that are outside your comfort zone, when you decide that you want to
consciously design how you evolve and who you become as a person.
Would you call that unusual and outrageous? Coaching is for
people who aren't daunted by this, and want to really go for it with
their lives...to live so fully today so that they'll have no regrets if
they die tomorrow....
PTBS-10: How do you attract clients? How do they come to hire you?
Rich: Most come from referrals from my clients, friends or coaching colleagues, some
from the trainings that I assist at The Coaches Training Institute (I
love to coach coaches!), and some from workshops and classes I've taught. The rest find me via my website.
PTBS-11: What are your rates/rate structure?
Rich: I offer an optional 2-4 hours initial foundational intake session which
ranges from $150-$400. My all-inclusive monthly coaching packages
run from $300 to $400 per month.
PTBS-12: What makes your practice different from other life coaching practices?
Rich: I've been teaching for several years in a couple of local
and, as a result of my affinity for that age group and my learning from
them about their special
challenges and what might help them, I realized that what they were
really asking for was personal coaching. So, I started coaching
teens, which has also lead to coaching parents and families. Most
only with adults and just one-on-one.
I also work just 4 days a week...and Friday is my "Play-only/self nurturing"
day. This is about modeling (for my clients) living my perfect
life. (1/7 of my life is play!) It's also about doing what I need
to do to make sure I'm really at my best (for them and myself). I'm often working
with people on the most intimate and precious parts of their lives, and looking more
for the nuances of what they don't say and don't see than what they do. I need
to be relaxed, in balance, clear and have all my own needs over-met so
that I can be fully present and have 100% of my attention available to
focus on them when they call. The "Friday Play Day" is an idea that came out of
one of my sessions with my own coach. I don't know any other coaches
who do this.
Having written the first draft of the book for Laura Whitworth on her
revolutionary new model for leadership, personal evolution and social
change called, "The Bigger Game," I coach leaders from years of experience and an intimate
knowledge of a powerful system that's so state-of-the-art that it's just now becoming publicly available.
I assist the training of new coaches at The Coaches Training
Institute. This gives me special insights into the development
process that people go through, both in becoming coaches, as well as
making the career transition and building a thriving practice.
I've mentor-coached several coaches, and am currently coaching two
coaches, in addition to my "non-coach" clients.
I'm also fairly fluent in Spanish and have a special affinity for the
Spanish/Latino culture. As a result, I've done some coaching in
Finally, as I mentioned earlier, I also do some teaching as part of my consulting
business, as well as some computer and web programming. In addition to that, I
drum in two bands, lead a spiritual group, have traveled in over 20 countries and lived abroad, and spend a lot of time out
in nature alone. These other activities ensure that I don't burn
out on coaching, and they also give me a rich diversity of perspectives,
insights and life experiences to draw from when working with my coaching
PTBS-13: How would you describe your coaching style?
Rich: One of the things that makes coaching powerful is the fact that others see us much more clearly than we see
ourselves. To honor that truth, it's safer for me to just relay what my
clients have said:
They tell me that I'm fun and that they like my sense of humor.
They like that I coach them to design me as their optimal partner, that
I learn quickly, and
that I'm a sort of chameleon: That is, I adjust my style to what
their unique style and preferences. They like that I am always
open and responsive to evolve my style as they evolve, to remain "in
step" with them as their optimal partner.
They say that my empathy, compassion, non-judgment, along with my comfort and
competency with intense emotions provides a safe space for them to go
to whatever level of honesty or emotional depth is required for them to get past
what's blocking them.
They tell me that they experience profound insights from my provocative
questions, coupled with my sensitivity and deep listening to both what
they say and what they don't say. I'm always surprised at the
powerful new understandings they report from
my simply clarifying and reflecting back what I've heard or sensed,
sometimes using slightly different words or "reframing" things a
bit. They say
they're often surprised to find themselves saying things they didn't
know they knew as my questions and the listening space I hold for them
takes them into deeper parts of themselves than they normally have
They like that I dance with them, sometimes leading, yet more often encouraging
them to lead. They like that I'm continually learning from them as
well as seeking out the best teachers around the world...and that, as a
result, I'm always bringing powerful new tools, techniques, and wisdom
to our calls.
My clients say that they love how I always hold their agenda for their life, rather than
bringing my own...and that I'm much more curious about their views and
interested in eliciting their innate abilities, resources and wisdom than
I'm am in pushing mine.
Finally, they've told me that they feel empowered and championed by the
fact that I always hold them as perfect just the way they are--and that
I believe that there's nothing wrong with them, nor has their ever
been. (Even if they don't believe these things themselves, they
find it valuable that I believe them with absolute certainty.)
When they're held as creative, resourceful, whole and completely capable of
finding their own answers, they respond to this by stepping into their
own power in new ways. They find themselves propelled to
greatness beyond what they imagined they were capable of by my
unfailing assertion that they're an extremely precious, unique and
important person, someone with unlimited potential to become and create
their highest dreams and aspirations...and that the world is waiting
for those invaluable and unique gifts and messages that they (and only they) are
here to share. I believe that there's a world-changing
"Einstein" within each of us. I never say, "That's not possible,"
nor "You can't do that." I say, "Let's go!" or "Dream even
bigger!!" And, they do!
Recent, specific quotes:
"Rich does not have his own agenda or miracle
cure or advice. He listens. And then he suggests one or two
ideas and waits for me to decide on the next course of action. He
listens. From real listening, he can accurately reflect back to
me my own words so that I can make up new interpretations or clarify or
abandon. He is professional, has excellent references, teaches
classes, takes classes - he's not playing at this. This is his
calling." ~ Carlene
"Rich has the most amazing calming, healing energy that he shared with
me so kindly and selflessly. His keen insights help me delve even
deeper into a journey of self-discovery, even towards areas that I
hadn't dared venture before. His brave authenticity prompts me to
realize my own pretense (however conscious or unconscious) and inspires
me to start living my own truth." ~ Vera
PTBS-14: What sort of tools or visuals do you use in your sessions?
Rich: To use a metaphor (we coaches love metaphors), I have a kitchen fully
stocked with ingredients from around the world...whether it's something
I've learned from a shaman in the Amazon, an ashram in India, from
a traditional university, or from state-of-the-art coaching and leadership programs here in the US, I
have an arsenal of tools, experiential exercises, techniques and
visuals that I draw from in the moment to create the perfect meal to
satisfy whatever my client's hungry for that day. It's sort of
like "just in time" coaching.
I have fun, experiential exercises to mine for your core values, to quantify your level
of satisfaction in each area of your life, to assess whether
you're ready for a relationship, to help your create a vision and
realize your specific goals. I have visualizations (interactive and on CD) to help you
access your right brain creativity or break rigid and "uncontrollable"
patterns of thought or behavior. I have visuals that teach the
stages of learning a new competency or how your perceived probability
of success affects your mood and motivation level. I have
step-by-step models for setting boundaries, for completing difficult
communications elegantly and with minimal conflict, and for becoming a
Martin Luther King with your dream...just to name a few. And, I'm
continually discovering, creating and integrating new ones.
PTBS-15: Describe your typical coaching session.
Rich: Everything is optional and completely customized to each particular
client. Generally, tho, here's the format for most clients:
- Prep form (Clients fill this customized form out the night
before their weekly session. This allows them to catch me up on
how they're doing, what challenges they're facing, how their homework
went, what they learned that week, what they want to accomplish with
this week's call, etc. This serves several purposes: It makes our
time together much more focused and powerful. It gives them time
each week to reflect on the life experience and where the greatest
point of leverage is to improve it. It gives them a place to
record important thoughts, desires, insights, dreams, learnings, and
successes, so that they have a record of the progress they've been
making in their life and development.)
going well. (This one has come from my
clients. One of my them taught me that, "Gratitude does not come
from Happiness; Happiness comes from Gratitude." So, the practice
noticing and voicing gratitude for what's going well trains the mind to
appreciate/enjoy the positive, rather than making life a series of
"problems to be fixed." This preparatory step also gives folks a
solid footing in the good/positive which gives them even more strength
courage to take on the really
- Connect and sync up with
where the person is that day...address
anything pressing in the moment so the client is ready and capable to
go to work. I coach the person first, and the issues
second. (Self esteem is the #1 psychological need: Without that,
working on issues is like working on the 2nd floor of the building
before the foundation is solid.)
- Move to what they stated (in the prep form) that they wanted to
accomplish with the call and accomplish that. (This usually
takes up the majority of the call.)
Feedback/learnings/alliance tweaks (This is their retraining me, as needed, to be their optimal partner.)
- Homework/inquiry/accountability/check-ins (In between the
calls, the client will have homework assignments designed to forward
the action in their life, and provocative questions to ponder to broaden
and deepen the learning available from whatever we're working on.
They typically use email to check-in with me if they get stuck, or to
send me a "deliverable" from one of their homework assignments.
Alternately, they also regularly use email to send me a status report
of something that they had committed to do by a certain date...and, if
they failed to accomplish this, they'll include information about what
got in the way, what they learned from that, and what they need to be
successful next time. "In between the calls, in their lives" is
where the coaching really "happens." This is the client in
action, creating change in themselves and their life.)
- "Quickie calls" (These also happen in between our regularly
scheduled calls. "Quickie calls" are 5-10 minute, short, spot
coaching sessions that can be scheduled just before that big talk with
a partner, that big job interview, etc. Clients also use them for
when a crisis situation comes up and they need just a bit of quick
coaching in that moment, rather than having to wait until their next
PTBS-16: Any client you would have coached differently?
Rich: I spend a fair amount of time thinking about each of my clients and how
the coaching's going in between our calls. Sometimes, I'll even
work with my own coach on it if the coaching with a particular client
feels stuck. One of the most powerful parts of the coaching
relationship is its continuity. If anything's not going well,
either in my perception or the client's, there's always the next
session and an open invitation to dialog about whatever might be more powerful for them.
In this way, we stay in sync. And, as it's a consciously designed
relationship, we're in continual dialog about how to evolve the
relationship to continue to match the client's needs, even as the
client is evolving. This is a partnership,
with both sides holding equal responsibility for the success of the
coaching. I empower my clients to ask for what they
need, tell me what's not working, and do whatever's necessary to make
the coaching's powerful for them. In fact, each of my clients and I
have a written agreement in which they commit to "making the
relationship powerful." This includes, specifically, that if a
client feels that the coaching is not working as they desire,
they commit to "communicate and make requests for what's needed."
This is a great place to practice the skill of noticing just what one
needs and making requests for that...a skill with they can perfect with
me and then start using everywhere else in their lives...with their managers, significant others, family, etc.
With some of my clients, we've even designed in a time at the end of
our call when they give me feedback about what's working well and most
impactful, and how they'd like me to be coaching them
differently. As a result, there are enough "checks and balances"
built in to the coaching relationship that the necessary "course
corrections" happen promptly, as long as the client is fully honest
with me. I do everything in my power to create a space that
allows them to be completely candid with me.
PTBS-17: What is the best thing about being a life coach?
Rich: I love that I have the honor and privilege of participating in people
creating dreams and lives they never thought they could have. I get to see them exude
new levels of passion, confidence and excitement as they become and achieve far
more than they previously dared imagine. I
know I'm doing something important with my life when they write
things like, "Thank you so much; you're an angel in my life" on their
checks to me or say publicly, "We consider Rich part of the family."
I also love that it's my job to model for my clients living the life
that's perfect for me. (How could I possibly coach with any
integrity if I wasn't walking my own talk?) I live so much more consciously, as
I'm always curious and experimenting, every day, with what brings the deepest
fulfillment and greatest learning, with the most fun and least effort,
in the various life situations I find myself in...and I'm constantly thinking about
how I could assist others to access similar wisdom. It's almost as if "my life" is
the R&D [Research & Development] for my coaching practice.
PTBS-18: What is the down side?
Rich: When I go on TV, magicians make me look like a butt-head charlatan in a profession that's "Bullshit!" ;-)
it's that people don't know what coaching's really about,
even though they think they do because of all the misinformation out
there, or because it's a word they've heard before in different
contexts. I received much more respect, and it was much easier to
living, when I was a computer engineer, doing little that I could see
helped people in any way that was truly meaningful to me (or that
actually made the world a kinder and happier place). Now, I'm
part of people
transforming themselves and living their dreams, creating their highest
visions and falling in love
with their lives, so much so that, sometimes, client's wives have said,
"In addition to everything I've seen him accomplish and how he now
feels about himself and his life, my husband's coaching is the best
thing that's happened to our marriage. If there's ever an issue, I'll
pay for his coaching!" ...and I tell ya, professionally, I still
get no respect, no respect.... <Dangerfield accent>
PTBS-19: What advice would you offer anyone considering a career in life coaching?
Rich: Get a coach...one who coaches coaches. Start coaching...anyone
you can, and as much as you can...even if you have to do it for
free. Decide to be the absolute best coach you can be and seek
out the best training available. Be truly honest with yourself
and bail on all of this if you're not doing it out of genuine,
heartfelt caring for others and the sincere desire to see them become
and create their highest vision. Otherwise, you won't be happy
long-term, nor will your clients...and, as a result, you probably won't
be successful enough to make a good living at it. (And, it's
actually not an easy business to make a living at.)
PTBS-20: Why do people need to hire a coach? Could
they get the same results by talking to a good friend or family member?
Rich: I say, "Try it." If you're already getting the results and
satisfaction you want in your life, hitting your goals and living your
dreams, having the impact you want to have in the world, becoming who
you really want to be, and in love with your life on your own--or, you
can achieve these things with the help of a friend or family
member--why hire a coach?
In general, tho, when caring and emotions are involved, it's difficult
for people to be objective, since those close to us usually have a
personal investment in our lives. They generally have their own
idea of what's best for us, and what's not, which makes it difficult
for them to hold our agenda. As coaches, we rarely coach friends or family members for this reason.
Here's an example: One of my clients has an huge passion for acting. She loves school and knows she'll return
someday, but really wants to go for her dream of becoming a successful Hollywood actress. Her
boyfriend, on the other hand, keeps trying talk her out of it...trying
to convince her to play it safe, put her dream on hold, and go to
school first. This is the boyfriend's agenda, not the client's
agenda...and it's probably more about keeping the boyfriend safe--ie,
not losing her--than it is about keeping her safe.
Another client tells me that her friends and family are rarely able to
deliver the hard truths, ask the hard questions, or to push or
challenge her for fear of hurting her feelings, etc. Examples she
cites of questions I've asked her that they wouldn't: "How much energy
do you want to devote to this situation?" "What's really best for
you?" "For homework, ask 5 people to help you with xyz."
Another client came to me after having "tried everything else."
He said that he had tapped his colleagues at work, his friends, his
wife, and his spiritual community, but that he still wasn't able to
make his dream happen. He even quit his job and got specialized
training. But, for reasons that he didn't even fully understand,
he ended up going back to his job and giving up on his dream.
Until he and his wife started talking about having children, that
is. He called me up, not even really knowing what coaching was,
and said, "I need to do this. I don't care what it costs or what
I have to do. I don't want to be a father who models giving up on
This was an extremely motivated and committed
client, who went gang busters with the coaching and made his dream
happen in just three months. That client said, "I'd characterize my experience as
transformation driven and accomplishment heavy. Rich's coaching was one
of the best things I've ever done for myself (as my wife and I both
agree). In the proverbial, I both caught fish and was helped to reveal
my own ability to fish." For whatever reasons, he wasn't able to
accomplish this even with the plethora of support he received from good
friends and family members.
Second to the emotional/closeness issues, there's the fact that coaches
are professionally trained and have years of experience. Like
anything you continually seek out training in and do day after day,
after awhile, if you have any natural talent at all, you'll eventually
become an expert at it. Obviously, if everyone had friends and
family members with this level of skill and experience for supporting
us, there'd be no need for life coaching and it would not exist.
A recent quote from a current client not mentioned above:
"I've only been working with you for a couple of weeks, but I feel
that I have broken out of a huge logjam of my own creating. My
family, friends and therapist hadn't been able to help me see what you
did -- that I have to go where my heart is. They all
supported me in pursuing the things I was saying I wanted to do.
All the activities I have surrounded myself with, felt compelled to do,
etc., are not really what I want. It's sort of like the story
where the emperor has no clothes. Thank you Rich, I am quite
astonished at how energizing this has been!" ~ Barbara
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< Give Someone the Gift of Coaching >
Rich Raffals ~ Awaken the Magic Coaching
Committed to Your Success
< Rich's Journey (and yours!) >
< What happens, how it feels, and what results when you're coached >
< Coaching: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) >
< The Power of Coaching >
< The Bigger Game Leadership/Growth/Change Model >
< A Somewhat Unique Definition of Coaching >
< Rich's Background: Bio and Resumé >
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