I often get clients come through word-of-mouth because a friend or colleague is raving about the results they get through coaching, therapy or training with me and they just want “some of the same”. But there’s a potential pitfall here. And it’s a pitfall that can happen in another scenario too; when a client has a presenting issue and they come looking for me to solve the problem for them.
I call this pitfall ‘the search for the Magic Bullet’. I recognise the magic bullet when the client sits down and after I ask, “What do you want?” they give me a vague or surface problem like, “I want you to make me not procrastinate”, or “I want to stop wasting time”. It’s always phrased in an ‘away-from’ form too, i.e. they tell me what they don’t want (see the section on positive phrasing in the free eBook you get from joining my elist). My next question is, “So what do you want?” And with magic bullet seekers that’s always followed by, “I don’t know!”
The two components (‘I don’t know’, and, ‘I want you to make me…’) are bad enough individually but together, I know I have my work cut out. So what do I do? First, I help them discover what they do want. But it’s not that straightforward if they won’t take ownership of the change. Ownership is actually one of the first things we use to empower a person on the Self Leadership training Accessing Personal Genius, because it paves the way for real personal power. The old saying ‘You can give a man to fish and he’ll feed himself for a day, but teach a man to fish and he’ll feed himself and his family for a lifetime’ comes to mind. Basically, people need to be self-motivated, it’s about self-efficacy (and yes, even therapy clients are strong enough for this, sometimes stronger than coaching clients).
This always highlights the difference between therapy and coaching. There is some crossover between therapy and coaching but for the most part there’s a massive difference between these two fields. However, so many people just lump them together (even a lot of therapists and coaches). I’ll talk more about this difference in another article, so make sure you’ve signed up for email updates. (I’m rare in that I’m a fully trained therapist, fully trained coach and fully trained Master Trainer. So I’m well aware of the differences and distinctions).
So how can you save yourself money and time if you’re thinking of getting therapy, coaching or training?
- Realise it’s you that makes any changes, not the facilitator. This is actually very empowering because you’ll learn through actual experience what an incredibly strong and amazing person you are. You’ll learn that you can continue making profound changes well beyond any coaching or training session. In my mind, it’s unethical for coaches and therapists to keep a person relying on them.
- Understand that even if you’re driven by an away-from motivation, you still need to know where you want to be. Just as long as you have a vague idea, that’s all that’s needed. A good coach will help you discover your direction, vision and values. It’s like driving away from a flood – you know what you’re getting away from but if you don’t know that you have to head for high ground, you’ll easily end up back in deep water!
In short, don’t chase a magic bullet – they don’t exist and you’ll be disappointed if you do! As soon as you decide you want assistance in repairing a hurt (therapy), ‘fixing’ a problem (therapy/coaching crossover), or escaping the drudgery of an unsatisfactory life and making life even more amazing (coaching and training), take comfort and empowerment knowing that it’s all in your hands, and then begin to think what you’d like instead.