It’s almost exactly a year ago now that I decided “maybe I should look into being a coach.” I was reading (and re-reading) Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass and seeing all kinds of parallels to my own life– lots of searching for meaning, lots of frustration with a less-than-renumerative writing career, and lots of being stuck. One day she decided she was sick of being stuck and decided to fix it, which led her into coaching, which led her into being a book-writing rockstar making millions. So when, in one chapter, she suggested “pick someone to emulate and do that,” I figured she was a good candidate for the job.
Some hunting around for a way to get started led me to Accomplishment Coaching, which in turn led to the intimidating decision to plunk down five figures for a year’s worth of intense vocational training and personal mentoring. If ever there was a leap of faith, this was it.
So here I am, one month away from my final exams, having faced my survival mechanisms over and over again, having changed my diet and sleeping habits, having dredged up all kinds of dark muck from the swamp of my childhood traumas and unexamined beliefs and exposed them to the light, and having done Scary Adult Things like setting up LLCs and creating business bank accounts. I look back at my “to do list” around coaching and see that item number one was “Get my shit together.” Well it’s taken me a year, a lot of money, some yelling and fighting and crying, and doing some stuff that had me absolutely terrified, but I think I can finally check off that item as complete.
Phew! Now. What’s step two, again? I have it written down somewhere…
In a moment of synchronicity, Jen Sincero happened to come to Politics and Prose in D.C. on a book tour way back in March or thereabouts, so I rounded up a handful of my Accomplishment Coaching teamies and we went to see her there… where I utterly failed to create any kind of meaningful connection with my would-be role model. It happens. But after that weekend, I kind of forgot about her and about You Are a Badass, because I was frantically trying to build a practice and reading lots of other books by Neale Donald Walsch, Debbie Ford, Steven Covey and more. I was too busy actually doing the work, to remember what had prompted me to go into it in the first place.
Yesterday, I remembered that I had the audiobook of Badass sitting on my phone, so I decided to revisit it. And let me tell you, coming around again after the past year, it’s a very different experience. Things that had been completely theoretical, and things that had me originally say “Yeah that’s great but…” have taken on a whole new meaning. You Are a Badass could almost have been called Ontological Coaching for Dummies, and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s light, it’s breezy, it’s for the neophyte or the curious layperson, and it does a great job of introducing you to the concepts of the work.
But like the Dummies books, it’s also just a starting point. Unless you have the world’s most easygoing Big Snooze/Gremlin/Survival Mechanism, it’s going to take a lot more than a breezy read to actually get you up and at ’em. This isn’t a condemnation of the book, it’s simply the truth that a book is not a coach. And in fact, a book can be dangerous, because buying and even vigorously reading the book can feel like you’re “doing something,” even if it’s really more like a valve letting some steam escape to keep you lodged right there in your comfort zone.
But really, what else can a book do? Until a person is really ready to stand up, do the work, and really make a change, a few pounds of ink printed on wood pulp isn’t going to have any effect. The best the author of a book can hope to do is to communicate the idea that change is possible, and hope the spark of that idea lights the fire inside the reader.
You Are a Badass did that for me, and judging by its sales I imagine it’s done that for a lot of people. It couldn’t do the work, no book possibly could, but it did help me believe that it was possible to do the work, and helped me understand why I might want to.
Step two? Oh yeah! Get out there and actually be a badass. Got it.