What’s in Your Head?

The personal coaching and mentoring market is starting to look more and more like a used car salesmen convention of under-achievers. In fact, many who could not make it in sales (i.e., realtors, authors, speakers, and unsuccessful business people) are now considering themselves “Life Coaches” and “Career Mentors.” Those who are truly skilled and can make a difference by guiding others are becoming lost in the Sea of the Hacks who have yet to find success in their career choice and yet somehow believe it to be their mission in life to help others achieve what they themselves could not.

Read the news or run a quick Internet search and you’ll discover too many unfortunate stories of ruined lives due to the guidance of unqualified coaches and mentors. Too many unsuccessful people are desperately searching for an easy way to make money. After they fail in their own career, they devise plans to feed off the aspirations of others. These hacks will take your money, promise you the moon, and try to convince you that someone or something else is to blame for your struggles. Don’t let these schemers rob you of your money and dreams!

You may ask: How does one recognize a skilled coach or mentor as opposed to an unqualified one? It’s not always easy, but it is possible to separate those who are skilled from those who want to exploit you in order to make their own child support payments with your money. There are many great certification programs available, but they alone only tell you that someone was able to do a self-study course and pass a series of quizzes and tests. You need to do your research before you even consider contracting with someone who may be able to help you achieve your goals.

Some may have high levels of education, and some may have many years of life experience. Ask yourself how their accomplishments help them to be a great coach or mentor. Get at least five different sources of reference and check them. You should have a solid sense of whether or not the person you plan to hire will actually be able to help you. Don’t make a quick emotional choice; make in informed consumer choice!

If you hire someone who has less than 5 years coaching and mentoring experience in the area you desire help in, keep in mind that you will be allowing them to gain their knowledge from your situation. You are, in essence, their guinea pig. They won’t have enough background and practical experience to serve you well. They won’t have a success record worthy of your time and money. Let them learn on someone else’s dime! I don’t recommend hiring anyone who has less than 5 years of experience in coaching or mentoring, or in the area they profess to be an expert in.

Also watch out for those who speak of being authentic but don’t have the success to back their claim. Some have years of experience in corporate settings and were successful only because of the collective effort of those they worked with. Some cash in on a family name or the recognition of being associated with someone famous, but they never achieved much on their own. When you recognize that these so-called coaches and mentors float on the success of others, move along quickly. Just because they worked, traveled, or lived with someone successful doesn’t mean they are qualified to guide you on your journey.

I’ve been around the world and found many truly inspiring professional men and women who have fantastic coaching and mentoring programs that can serve you well. Find them and hire those people! I have also run across those who can sell a sad story, make themselves cry at the drop of a dime, and tug on the heart strings of others, promising a glorious future that in reality will never be realized. As part of your search for a trustworthy coach or mentor, visit the Better Business Bureau website (http://www.bbb.org) and get their rating. Do a Google search and see what comes up. Try to find information that goes back at least 5 years. And although these are good sources of reference, don’t let them be the only criteria you use.

Find out all you can in other areas of their life. If someone is broke and sleeping on a friend’s sofa, how are they going to help you become financially successful? If they owned a business that failed, or if they never owned and operated a business at all, how can they guide you as you start yours? Do your homework before signing a contract or buying a product.

If someone has been in poor shape and all of a sudden won a Biggest Loser-type competition, how much can they really help you get and stay in better physical shape?! If they lost the weight, kept it off for 5 years, then sure, consider them to help you. But if not, if you want to get in better health, go see your medical doctor for guidance and then join a local gym or health club and hire one of their pre-screened, certified fitness trainers. Hit the Common Sense Button and see what happens!

Oh, and by the way, if the cost of their service is so low that it appears too good to be true, then don’t just walk away… RUN! You will get what you pay for in a cheap program and you’ll end up with nothing but regrets, wasted time, and lost money.

Please don’t think I’m saying all this in order to sell you a coaching or mentoring program of my own; there is no sales pitch here – just learned insights. I simply want you to know that there are people who will try to take advantage of you. They will tell you that you can’t do it alone. They will use scare tactics to predict a dismal future for you without their help. They will push you to hire them on the spot. These ‘spins’ are signs that they are more interested in taking your money than they are in actually helping you. Be smart and make better decisions!

This is just my take on the topic. Like Dennis Miller used to say, “I could be wrong.” But I doubt it!