I was recently drawn to an article in the Angling Times by Rob Hughes (see extract below)…
For me it served to highlight a socially concerning issue and one that I have written about previously – social-media hype. Which is something that tends to create and compound unrealistic expectations of reality, for many people.
I’M FEELING decidedly cynical after digesting a number of ‘incredible’, ‘amazing’ and ‘unbelievable’ angling stories put about on social media and YouTube. Do people really have such mind-blowing experiences? (Rob Hughes)
Hughes works in marketing, so he clearly understands the drive behind all the ‘claptrap’ but he also suggests; “some of the current angling claims are a tad far-fetched” and like me, he arrived at a similar conclusion; “fishing is not what it used to be.” But, as with many aspects of our life today, “it’s all about the story – and what it seems to be” – rather than a resemblance of reality. Unsurprisingly, the business world is not exempt from this increasingly common hyperbole.
Aspirations & Social Expectations
Today’s connected world is crammed full with digitally enhanced illusions of ‘reality’ – and much of that ‘reality’ is actually contrived. As well as being a lucrative source of income for an increasing number of people.
Telling other people how to live their life is becoming a source of wealth because, way too many of us have aspirations based in and on the lives lived by other people. We are rarely content with what we have. Too many of us are unable to be happy, unless we have what society expects us to have – as a measure of personal success – by others.
That said, the careersinpsychology.org website offers a timely reminder for most of us by pointing to the fact; not very many people actually fulfill their childhood dreams. Let alone realise many of their youthful ambitions or aspirations. They get frustrated when reality fails to match their personal dreams. Enter the life-coach!
Firstly and importantly for me, I don’t believe it is ever appropriate to tell someone how to live their life. Or define or direct what is (or is not) the ‘best’ for someone else. Thankfully, that is not what ‘coaching’ is all about, or at least it shouldn’t be.
Coaching & Mentoring
Coaching is a form of development in which an experienced person, called a coach, supports a learner or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing training and guidance. (wikipedia.org)
A quick Google search – ‘coaching and mentoring’ – reveals a myriad of information on this ‘hot’ business topic. There are more courses, qualifications and individuals or companies selling their services than you can shake a stick at.
Coaching and mentoring are processes that enable both individual and corporate clients to achieve their full potential. Coaching and mentoring share many similarities… (coachingnetwork.org.uk)
The world of work has undoubtedly changed over the decades, non more so than within recent times. The covid-19 pandemic is making this painfully clear, for some more than others, all be it that is belatedly perhaps.
The expectations of anyone entering the workplace today, or obliged to change their careers (due to covid-19 etc.), will be vastly different to mine 40+ years ago. But, irrespective of any individual aspirations, many people now want far more from their life than simply doing a job, to earn them some money and pay their bills. And why not?
The world of work is changing. Our research shows that developing coaching and mentoring skills at every level of an organisation is the key to unlocking potential and increasing productivity. (Institute of Leadership & Management)
However, a great deal of this so-called ‘awakening’ is rooted amongst the ‘visions’ we glean from our digital connections, rather than the workplace or daily life itself. Thanks to the increasing number of so-called digital nomads and the proliferation of content creators – many people now crave freedom from their daily grind. Something that is an available and flourishing opportunity for many.
Our new ‘dreams’ have also changed our perceptions of ‘reality’ across society. But, irrespective of the fact your dreams may be different to my dreams, they only ever come to fruition with some effort. But again, perceptions about realising the ‘unreachable’ is constantly refueled and enhanced by the hyperbole of social-media. Our dreams are often moved ever further beyond our reach.
Yes, the landscape of work-life-balance has changed. It will continue to change and probably way beyond any past common recognition however; are all the current changes benefiting everybody in our society, or simply improving the prospects for self-realisation amongst the few?
Coaching for Life
The Life Coach often gets bad press. I admit, in the past I’ve tended to be just as cynical as the next person. It’s probably because firstly, they [Life Coaches] are often misunderstood but secondly; the world of business has witnessed exponential growth in this particular commercial sector.
Life coaching is a widely misunderstood approach. By some considered a modern form of counselling, by others an expensive agony aunt and by many a bi-product of American’s attitude to chasing the proverbial dream. (skillsyouneed.com)
But, Life Coaching has grown into a hugely successful form of talking therapy, which is popular with many people. The process has undoubtedly helped many people to turn their lives around. As a consequence coaches, particularly in America where everybody has a personal therapist [apparently], have become wealthy from the process of selling their guidance ‘skills’ to others.
Coaching may sound like a foreign concept to some, but to compete as a world-class athlete, you need the experience, enthusiastic support, objective perspective and insight of a coach. (tonyrobbins.com)
Our world is flooded with snake-oil salesmen (and women), all vying to part you from your money. Their promises, to help you be a better version of you, or live your best life, are undoubtedly appealing, for some. It is no wonder that self-help ‘gurus’ have been extremely adept at matching supply to that growing demand.
Deciding to see a life coach is the first step in your journey to discovering the power you hold within yourself. But it can feel like a big step, especially if you haven’t experienced coaching before. (lifecoach-directory.org.uk)
Despite my cynicism and regardless of any sarcasm, most people’s attention is drawn to the possibility of living a ‘better’ life and being told (for a price) that; “you are only constrained by your own desire and willpower” which in the main, is very often true. Many people can (and do) achieve anything they want to achieve, when they set their minds to the task in hand.
The part I tend to get uncomfortable about is… “I’ll show you how to be a better you at http://www.etc.con – simply enter your credit card details on my website.” I can’t help but partly admire this now common ‘Americanism’ in the business world. That strong capability for the monetization of almost anything.
Life coaching is not regulated in the UK, so anyone can work as a life coach, if they feel they have the necessary skills and qualities. More and more, clients tend to favour coaches who have qualifications and membership of a professional organisation… (ucas.com)
But, the the apparent lack of any qualifications (or even real life-experiences, in some cases) amongst some of the ‘best’ exponents in the trade, constantly reminds me of that age-old adage – ‘those that can, do and, those that can’t teach’ – but, regardless of my cynicism creeping to the fore again… Caveat emptor!
The latest flavour of the month [for self-development] appears to be – Transformational coaching – another form of life coaching, something that most of us probably know at least something about.
This particular process “involves helping people bettering themselves” according to the careersinpsychology.org website. Some of the [mostly unregulated] practitioners are probably very good at what they do (see below) however I often wonder; is what they do based upon something they have learned from a book, or from the lived-experiences of life itself?
My mission is to help LOST souls take a shortcut to a FULFILLED, AUTHENTIC & HAPPY life. I offer private & intense transformational life & success coaching programs. It is a collaborative, eye-opening, life-changing journey. (Ruta Coaching)
Leon VanderPol, founder of the Center for Transformational Coaching, offers clients an opportunity to learn “the art of Deep Transformational Coaching” so they can develop “level awareness and awakened consciousness.” Then move on to help people to be more able to “tap into and embody their authentic, essential self.”
Who Needs Coaching?
Please don’t see any of the above as me trying to undermine or belittle the efforts of anybody named in this blog, or indeed any professional within this field of commercial business. That is not my intention, coaching and mentoring is a worthwhile process, and for many.
But, in a similar vein to the entrepreneurial individuals who inhabit the darker corners of our society, pedaling mind altering drugs to the lost, marginalised and disconnected souls; coaches are simply filling the void. That chasm of neuroticism that is inherent within many of us, thanks again due to the expectations we develop from social-media. Our world is full of an increasing numbers of ‘lost’ people, who tend to struggle a bit with their self-realization sometimes.
Again, the constant consumption of hyperbole, coupled with those social-media driven perceptions of perfection or contrived ‘reality’ are clouding our visions. We are constantly viewing the world (and ourselves) through digitally enhanced rose-tinted spectacles.
I’m not suggesting that anybody should ditch their dreams, far from it. Merely that our dreams could benefit from being a tad more rational and realistic, sometimes.
Try formulating your aspirations around the real-world a bit more, you will suffer from way less disappointment… Amor Fati!
In short, try to simplify your life a bit more. Could your aspirations be based in the expectations of those around you and/or our wider society, rather than your own?
I do find it amusing that some people are prepared to spend their hard-earned cash on self-development guidance. Again, I’m not detracting from the worth of employing any professional and skilled coach, far from it. It is similar to paying for a course of education, at university for example. We can all benefit from learning new things. It is always helpful to adopt a self-reflection process in our life… are we always as good or efficient as we think we are? Unfortunately the answer is often no and looking for a little support, when we are struggling, is no bad thing.
But, I still smile when I see people paying good money for self-guidance. Yes, the ‘coach’ has probably invested a lot of their own time and money on their skills, and their programme of training however, the cynic in me still asks; why would anyone want to pay for teachings that, in some cases, have been freely available for centuries?
It probably has something to do with that ‘quick-fix’ mentality held by so many of us. People are constantly chasing fast results and instant gratification. In many ways this isn’t our fault as individuals… it’s a socially contrived construct.
The Coronavirus Legacy
To a certain extent, we have all been conditioned to behave in the ways I have mentioned above, at least to some level. Perhaps we can all benefit from some renewed simplicity in our lives?
In many respects I’m strangely grateful for the Covid-19 pandemic. In my opinion, it has served to remind our society about what things we [should] value in life. Or at least my hope is, it will help (some) people to refocus upon what is (or should be) most important for them.
When the pandemic first hit, and our governments started to implement their measures to try and mitigate against the public-health problems, many people were suddenly at a loss. How will we cope? What will we do? How safe is my job? How will I provide for myself and/or my family? How long will this last?
Many people were unhappy, concerned, distressed, depressed and unwell. The mental health issues, connected with the covid-19 pandemic, will be far more wide ranging than the physical health impacts of the virus itself. We have already seen and continue to see the impacts of ‘lockdown’ measures; panic buying, working from home, limitations of social gatherings and (arguable) curtailment of human rights, to name but a few. But all of these have impacts for mental-health.
All of the above have created issues that we have all struggled to deal with. People understandably craved a quick return to normality but, as the pandemic has progressed, many of us have also now realised; there will be a new ‘normal’ and for some time yet. Perhaps we will never return to our old ‘normal’ but is that such a bad thing? I’m not sure that it would be.
It really wouldn’t be a problem for me, or in reality for our society as a whole, as we start to simplify our lives and hopefully crave less of the materialistic stuff we once avidly clung to… it’s always good to dream!
Ancient ‘Coaching’ Philosophy
The Japanese benefit from exceptional life expectancy and longevity of personal contentment. They have a life philosophy called Ikigai, it’s their secret for living a long and happy life. In short, Ikigai provides them with a ‘reason for being’ or their raison d’être. By trying to understand Ikigai we can all start to determine what we want to do, and why we want to wake up every morning.
Ikigai is just one of many ancient teachings, but also something that can help us all through the tribulations we face in the world today… if we choose to make that choice.
I’m not suggesting that we all need to suddenly ditch our modern (materialistic) trappings of life. Or even, run off to live amongst a commune in the Himalayan mountains, or even travel to some far-flung holistic mindful island retreat in the Pacific ocean, unless that happens to be your desire.
Yes, communities like these can provide a useful source of support however; could it be that we crave that ‘community’ support because, in many respects, it often doesn’t exist (or isn’t available) in the community we live in? We all need a place where we can ‘find ourselves’ – to adopt today’s common parlance. Just as with life-coaching (or leadership coaching for business), we can all benefit from finding the benefit from a little bit of support sometimes.
That said, many ancient philosophies do still offer some useful guidance, whilst also teaching us some helpful methods to live life today. As I have aged, I have found worth in learning a little more about some of these altruistic and humanitarian historical teachings. So much of it still makes sense today, especially so within our self-interested crazy world.
Teachings like Stoicism, Taoism and Confucianism amongst others, can not only be helpful but also; applying that learning from these ancient philosophers, we can start enjoying our life processes a little bit more. Rather than simply enduring what is often a difficult journey.