I am not a ‘Coach’

I am not a Life Coach. I am not a Character Development Coach (although I used to call myself that). I am not a Mental Toughness/Resilience/Personal Development Coach. I speak. I write. Occasionally, I get to teach to small groups or I get to have one-on-one discussions with people about their lives. I gave myself the title ‘Character Development Coach’ because I felt I needed one (Hummmm… sounds like I was living in a ‘story’). People would ask me what I am. I felt ‘motivational speaker’ was too broad. I felt ‘life coach’ was unwarranted because I had no training on life coaching although people have compared me to a coach many times. ‘Character Development’ was unused so I felt more comfortable with it. Here’s what I’ve seen and realized in 4 years of doing this work to share lessons learned from my life: I’m an Observer of Patterns (both social/cultural and at the individual level). This is why I’m such an advocate of self awareness. Once you notice patterns in yourself you can be conscious of it and change it if you see the need. Also, being able to see patterns in the world around us allows one the opportunity to take advantage of those patterns (that’s very much what happens in the world of day trading in stocks and business in general I would argue.).

While accurate as a description of what I am advocating through my content, even ‘Character Development’ is something I actually don’t use anymore. Particularly, because I feel it implies some sort of moral high ground and that’s not my aim. In terms of coaching character, personal development, resilience, or life, I’m not sure how you do that and I don’t think I want to do that. I’m not saying that coaching is invalid in any way. I’m saying it’s not what I do. Practical Philosophy might be the best description of what I do. By pointing out patterns in the world, my hope is to help people navigate a couple of challenges:

  • If we’re trying to experience life in a new way it’s likely that we have to break down some psychological barriers to see the world differently. Of course, there are probably inherited narratives that need to be let go of – college is the only way to success, a good job with good pay/benefits is the goal, the more you earn the more you have to spend, it’s all downhill physically when you hit your late thirties… All the stuff I talk about constantly.
  • Then there are simple environmental adjustments – It’s easier to shift how you spend money when you track it with a budget, It’s easier to be consistent with an exercise routine when it’s simple versus complex, it’s easier to stay calm in a clean home versus a messy one … tactical adjustments that reduce the friction involved with behavior/belief change.

The more you see patterns for yourself, the less you need to hear from someone like me. Getting people to a point where they feel the confidence to successfully take on any challenge in life with or without a support network is my hope. There are practical reasons for this:

  • Lowest Common Denominator – The person who can’t afford to pay for coaching. Or perhaps can’t afford the basics of healthcare but they probably have a smartphone and can get to an internet connection to read a blog or watch a video.
  • Self Guided Learning – The internet area and the rising cost of higher education has brought about an age where there exists so much freely accessible knowledge online. The trick is that if you want the info, you have to sit and watch/listen/read the information. Then you must do something with it. No teacher to give you grades and no social narrative to validate that you are going in the right direction (In our era college is always the right answer even though we all know that’s not true… shaking my head).
  • No Environmental Pressure – In the first world, we don’t have to hunt or farm for our food. Life is getting easier in many ways. This gives rise to the question of how we chose to fill our time. Exercise is a choice for many of us. You can get away with doing nothing with your body for years in America. Maybe your entire life. Same thing with human interaction. You can do everything online so why challenge yourself to deal with all the difficulty that comes with human connection. There’s so much convenience in our current time that if we don’t hold ourselves personally accountable to growth, who will be the wiser?

In my mind a coach teaches the standards of a game based on understanding how the game is played. In my own life, I can be a coach because I define the rules of my own life. Based on this understanding of coaching, I can coach myself at life but I can’t really coach others. What I can do is challenge others with ideas, share knowledge/wisdom, model personal growth, and be an advocate for my own potential and that of others.

How do you coach your self through change? Do you have some vision of the person you want to become or is that something you would even find useful? What things do you avoid because you feel you would have to go at it alone? Is alone a bad thing always?

-Travis

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