Doug Bruns

Will advise for cash.

In Life, Memoir, The Examined Life on June 13, 2012 at 6:00 am

“Yes, coach. Okay, coach.”

A person¬†followed my Twitter feed recently whose profile stated that she was a “life coach” with over ten-thousand followers. Ten thousand! I went to Google and searched the term life coach. In .26 seconds Google responded that it found “about 43,400,000 results.” Forty-three million! (Two exclamation marks might be a record for me.)

Does anyone else find this curious? All these people coached–or coaching–on life? One popular life coaching site advertises: “As more people recognize the need for inspiration and guidance, the more they see coaching as a method of gaining self-confidence and moving towards a higher aspiration. Imagine, finally being in the right place at the right time.” ¬†I’m not sure what they mean by “finally being in the right place at the right time.” Are they suggesting that previous generations were full of self confidence and brimming with aspiration, didn’t need coaching on how to live. Perhaps it’s only the present generation so vacuously lacking? Lucky us. The introduction includes a pop-up quiz the inquirer should take to see if they’ve got the goods or need the goods.

I am (hardly) resisting the temptation to be cynical. Forty-three million hits can’t be wrong. Ten-thousand people in search of a coach. That’s a lot of folks in need. I have to respect that.

The site I quote includes a photograph, in sepia (interesting choice), of a lovely looking not-too-young, not-too-old woman whose title is “Mentor coach, and admission adviser.” I didn’t bother to discover if one applies for coaching needed or, rather, applies for coaching offered. Perhaps that is where the mentor coach comes in: “Sorry, you failed the quiz. You need life coaching. We’re here for you. Please submit your application.” Or maybe, conversely: “Congratulations. You passed. You exhibited knowledge of how to live and we think you’d make a great coach for those who don’t get it.”

Oh, I wasn’t going to be cynical. Sorry.

I have nothing against any of this. Nor do I have anything for it. I suspect in prior generations “the need for inspiration and guidance” was filled by: a) parents, b) school, c) super heroes, d) books (there’s a concept), e) teachers (formal and informal), f) extended family, g) churches, h) friends, and so forth–all old school stuff. Stuff that obviously doesn’t work any more. That is just conjecture on my part.

As best I can reckon, I have been on a similar quest for forty-four years, since my eighth birthday (that story here). Informally, I have been trying to understand how best to live–I guess formally too, if one considers academic study. (An undergraduate concentration in philosophy; a failed attempt at an advanced degree in the highfalutin History of Ideas.)

Regardless, I wish all those folks in pursuit of a good coach the best of luck. Your life depends on it. And to the coaches, I ask that you be gentle and spread your wisdom widely. There are a lot of us–over forty million, I’m told–in need of assistance.

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