The Need for Coaching

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Welcome to episode two of Coach Cam TV! I’m your host Cameron Popp and today we’re diving into a question my uncle asked me last week. His question is, “Why is there such a need for coaching? What changes have taken place that have led to the rise in so many successful coaches?” This is a big question, so I will attempt to answer it as best I can.

On the one hand, nothing has changed. Coaching helps you with problems that come with being human and that need is only just now being filled. Your ancestors all struggled with many of the same things you do—like finding meaningful work, building and maintaining relationships with people you love, and structuring your life so that it satisfies your needs. How exactly those themes play out may look different across time, but the core issues are the same. Life has always been a dance to ever changing music. It’s constantly evolving with you and you have no choice but to dance along with it, and we humans have needed to do this for millennia.

On the other hand, a lot has changed that can explain the current need for coaching—specifically the role of culture, education, and psychology in changing how we live.

Culturally, our lives look very different now than they did a few decades ago. Compared to our ancestors, we grow up isolated. We live in single-family homes with miles of concrete between our friends. We’re connected, but alone. The breadth of our digital interactions simply doesn’t add up to the depth of a flesh and blood connection. We live in a culture that is increasingly distracted and outwardly oriented. We have more digital profiles than we can count, but yet we don’t really know who we are. Each of us now grows up with very limited image of what a successful life looks like: A McMansion with a well-paying albeit boring job, a family with two kids.

But, imagine for a moment what it would be like to grow up in an Indian tribe 200 years ago. The way you grew up looked completely different from the way it does now. Sure, we wouldn’t have Ray Bans and or America’s Got Talent, but all the problems I just described would disappear. You would have been surrounded by close-knit social bonds and been so intimately connected with nature that you felt like a part of it. Being charged by buffalo or getting injured on a hunt would be the most stressful thing you would endure. Your images of “success” would have  surviving and maintaining the community in which you lived. And even when you did have a problem, you had village elders to turn to for guidance. So culturally, there have definitely been changes that lead to a need for coaching.

More recently, education has played a role in the increasing need for coaching, especially in young people. Have you ever wondered why school’s not in session during the summer? Because kids had to go home to work on the farm! Our current school system is preparing us for a different age, one where you got a diploma, picked a job, and worked until retirement for the same company. Our needs have changed but the school system has stayed the same. There’s no class on “How to Set and Achieve Your own Goals” or “How to Find Peace in the Modern Age” or “How to Discern Your Calling” – but these skills are expected of us at any rate and are present in successful leaders.

Starting in junior high, my teachers stressed the need to be prepared for high school. In high school they prepared me for college, and college, I believed, was preparing me for “real life”. But when I finally graduated last December I had a piece of paper, some knowledge about my major, but absolutely no idea of how to move forward with my life. And I’m not alone – I know too many young people that have been burned by this same problem. When it comes to finding their calling, vocation, or simply meaningful work, they’re lost. They’re working two part-time jobs, living at home, or wasting time getting more education because they were never prepared for how to live life beyond college’s doors.

The third trend that led to our current need for coaching can be found within psychology. For decades, psychology has been obsessed with pathology. It’s been focused on exploring, understanding, and eventually fixing what’s wrong with people. This is a noble cause, but it was based on the flawed assumption that you can find bliss by treating what’s wrong with you. It wasn’t until the early nineties that psychologists realized they knew nothing about what it takes for someone to live a happy, meaningful, and purpose-driven life.

For example, when you share a problem with a therapist she might say, “Tell me how you feel about that.” While explaining a problem does make it easier to handle, this approach is like learning how to ride a bike paying attention to only your mistakes. Focusing on what’s going wrong is not how you learn something. When you share a problem with a coach she will ask you, “What do you want to do about that?” We learn new things by learning from our successes, correcting our mistakes, and moving forward towards our learning goals.

Thankfully coaching can harmonize the dissonance I’ve been talking about. It promises to help you dance along with life, to define your success beyond what culture expects, and grow your life in meaningful ways. It promises to fill in the gaps left out by your education so you can create your vision for a remarkable life. It does so by the coaxing out the unlived life within you, empowering you with tangible tools, and dissolving your inner barriers.

This has been an episode of Coach Cam TV, tune in next time when we talk about the meaning of life.