The Folly of Guaranteed Success in Coaching: A Cautionary Tale

In the world of coaching, promises of guaranteed success within a fixed timeframe are all too common. Whether it’s overcoming addiction, achieving career goals, or finding personal fulfillment, coaches often tout their own experiences as proof that their methods work for everyone. Someone who has navigated the treacherous waters of alcohol reliance, how can you give such assurances you can transform others lives.

Picture this: a single woman, no children, no partner, and no major relationship responsibilities. That was me, relying on alcohol to get through life’s ups and downs. But after realising the toll it was taking her my health and well-being, made the decision to quit. And you know what? They feel fantastic. No longer needing to drown their sorrows in a glass of wine or seek solace in the bottom of a bottle. They found a healthier way to cope, from non-alcoholic beverages to engaging in activities that bring genuine joy.

But here’s the catch: just because they’ve found success doesn’t mean they can guarantee the same for you or anyone else. Coaching isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, and their journey to sobriety is just one of countless paths that individuals may take. Promising to replicate their results in 30 days with a magic program is not only unrealistic but also irresponsible.

Using personal experiences to carve out a niche in coaching may seem like a logical approach. After all, who better to understand the struggles of addiction than someone who has been there themselves? But it’s important to recognise the limitations of this approach. Relying solely on personal experiences can turn clients into unwitting test dummies as coaches fumble their way through finding what works for them.

Moreover, the concept of “growth” in the coaching space is often misconstrued. While it can certainly mean evolving and doing things you haven’t done before, it’s too often equated with a relentless pursuit of “better.” But what if “better” looks different for each person? What if growth means accepting yourself as you are, flaws and all, instead of constantly striving for some unattainable ideal?

And let’s talk about support from a coach. Yes, guidance is crucial, but when it’s based solely on achieving success, it can sometimes do more harm than good. Without the wisdom that comes from lived experience and years of practice, guidance can veer dangerously off course, leading clients down paths that may not serve their best interests.

So where does this leave us? In a world inundated with promises of guaranteed success, it’s important to approach coaching with a healthy dose of skepticism. Personal experiences can certainly inform coaching practice, but they should never be used as a substitute for evidence-based methods and ethical principles. Growth, too, should be defined on our own terms, not dictated by society’s unrealistic standards. And support from a coach should always come from a place of genuine care and concern for the well-being of the client, rather than a desire to pad the coach’s bottom line. Being told to Wake up orĀ grow up seems like a narcissistic approach to coaching.

In the end, the journey to personal transformation is a deeply individual one, and there are no shortcuts or guarantees along the way. As someone who has walked that path, I can tell you this much: it’s not easy, and it’s certainly not quick. But with the right support, the willingness to embrace change, and a healthy dose of self-compassion, anything is possible.