10 Reasons Coaching "Doesn't Work"


And how it CAN work for you today...


As a coach/mentor, I’ve heard a lot of people’s opinions about whether or not coaching “works” for them.  Many who have tried coaching and gained a tremendous value from the experience are big fans.  They felt the support they needed, and were likely able to achieve not only the feelings of support and empowerment, but also the grounded results they were seeking.  Even still, there are tons of people who have had a different experience, one that left them feeling disappointed with either their coach, or what they received/didn’t receive while working with them. 

In having these conversations, and in speaking with many people who are considering hiring a coach for the first time, it’s become clear that a solid understanding of what coaching is and isn’t, is important if you’re interested in being in this first camp of people – the ones who will say without a doubt, that their coach helped them changed their life in profound ways.  

When you hire a coach, you are likely looking for 2 things:  1) The feelings and freedoms you seek internally, and 2) The external outcomes you desire. 

Coaching is a sacred partnership.  Which means that ideally, both people in the dance are investing energy into your growth, and the resulting outcomes you desire.  In years of experience witnessing this growth partnership in action, there are certain elements that when present, allow for grace to enter in consistently.  There are also certain elements that when not present, can leave you feeling disappointed, and even like you’ve wasted your money investing in something that never took you where you actually wanted to go.  

Here are a few reasons I’ve seen this coaching relationship produce anywhere from mediocre, to non-existent results for people interested in receiving this form of support, with contributions from both the coach and client.  And if you’re someone currently seeking coaching support, these are the points I’d suggest considering before handing money to anyone who you wish to enter into that sacred partnership with.  If you had a disappointing coaching experience, here are some possibilities as to why that may have happened: 


1) You weren’t fully invested.  The only way you can achieve what you want, is if you believe in it whole-heartedly.  Even if you are working with a coach with years of experience, loads of skill, and who believes in you 100%, it still would not be enough if you weren’t bought in to your own growth process and willing to feel the importance of what you’re creating.  Clients who enter into this relationship with clarity that with support, they can meet their challenges and create lasting change, are the ones who see the results they seek. 

2) Your coach cared more about being right than you reaching your goals.  Many coaches, especially ones just starting out, believe that they know the “right” way to do things.  The problem with working in a growth partnership with someone like this though, is that it does not allow enough space for your intuitive wisdom to emerge and be your ultimate guide.  Coaches who are skilled in constantly bringing you back to your own inner guidance, and detaching from their own opinions, biases, and beliefs about you and your life, will ultimately feel the most empowering for you to work with. 

3) You weren’t willing to be vulnerable with yourself, or with your coach.  Growth partnerships thrive when you expose your needs, desires, and truth.  And this requires you to open up honestly about who you are, and what you really want.  If you’re not used to doing that and including someone else in the process, it can feel hella-scary!  And, the effectiveness of what you receive from your coaching experience completely depends on the depth of this honesty, and how much of it you’re willing to bring to the process within your coaching relationship.  The more real you get, the more real your results will be. 

4) Your coach was still hiding from their own potential.  There is a particular phenomenon leaders like Julia Cameron have talked about called being a “shadow artist.”  Well, there is also such a thing as being a shadow coach.  If you are hiring someone to work with you in a particular area you want to grow and expand in, but they themselves are not committing energy to their own growth process, your results are not going to be as strong.  Again, this is a partnership, and choosing a coach who is actively stretching themselves personally and professionally is a huge factor in you feeling the inspiration and stimulation you need from them. 

5) You secretly believed that “following your dreams” is woo woo.  This happens a lot with clients who are hiring a coach for the first time.  Apprehensively, they invest money into the process, but with an open eye scanning for the moment they can prove their theory that the coaching business is actually a fraud, and that they’ve indeed been duped.  Here’s a secret:  The process of expansion is only effective when grounded in a relationship of faith and trust.  The nature of the coaching relationship, is such that you are wishing to step into a place of unknown territory.  One that ideally, your coach has cultivated for themselves and helped others step into.  If you’re secretly holding onto the belief though that you can’t create the real changes you seek because it’s too crazy or unfathomable, you’re might not experience the miracle of supported growth and awakening. 

6) Your coach was too woo woo.  The other side of that same coin, is that there is a practicality to growth that is very real.  It is the reason that for most people, simple saying the affirmations over and over again do not create the changes they seek.  Most of the time, the practical application of feeling can be found in our physical experience of those feelings and beliefs.  That’s right, I’m talking about a-c-t-i-o-n.  Action is the way we embody our emotions and intention.  And it is the piece that when left out of the coaching relationship, can result in a client feeling like they just invested a lot of money to simply think thoroughly about something, that never really landed in their actual reality.  High quality coaching includes inspired actions, accountability, and creating a real road map towards you bringing your intentions into a reality.  Even if you’re hired a coach who work primarily in the areas of mindset, spirituality, or the emotional realms, if they weren’t including action steps into your work, this may have contributed to your disappointment in working with them. 

7) You expected your coach to be responsible for saving, fixing, or healing you.  This is a growth partnership, but it is not a parent-child dynamic.  Even if you have the most ooey gooey emotionally-connected bond with your coach, their role is still very clearly to help you take care of yourself.  Your actions are not their responsibility.  Your goals are not their responsibility.  Your results are not their responsibility.  Though they are invested helping you with all of these things, Your progress is ultimately yours and yours alone.  This is actually true of any helping relationship.  A practitioner or helping professional can literally only offer you what they have.  If you are ready to receive what they offer it will be there for you.  Whether you receive and absorb that gift is completely up to you.  And the ones who do, are usually the ones who see splendid results.

8) Your coach was insensitive to your true needs and desires.  Unfortunately there are many coaches who become too attached to their own agendas.  So much so, that they are not actually listening to yours.  Remember that when you seek to hire someone to help you grow, one of the best qualities you can look for is sensitivity.  And specifically, the empathetic kind that allows for you to feel seen, heard, and understood.  If in the past you worked with someone who did not have this quality, I can almost guarantee that you felt “missed,” or in even worse cases, judged.  This is not a high-quality coaching relationship, and it’s also not the kind of environment that will produce your most efficient growth process.  Finding a coach who is able to easily tune into you is crucial to the effectiveness of your work together. 

9) You chose a coach who was the wrong fit for who you are, and what you needed.  There are as many coaches nowadays as there are needs.  Since the profession of coaching and self-development has expanded over the last few years, most coaches have moved in the direction of narrowing down the population of people they work with based on their personal growth trajectory.  They call this working within a particular “niche.”  If a coach has not done enough purpose discovery work though, or if you decide to just “settle on someone” because you’re tired of looking for the right person, you might find that this distills the results you can achieve with them.  It is similar to romantic relationships.  The more clarity you have on what you need and want, the more satisfied you will be with the partner you find.  Looking for a coach operates very similarly.  When you can hone in as specifically as possible on what you’re needing to work on and seek that person out, this is where your highest potential lies. 

10) Your coach didn’t embody deep listening with you.  Again, the coaching relationship is so much about you feeling heard.  If your coach did more of the talking and you mostly listened to them, this is more of a teaching relationship than a growth partnership.  That is useful, but it’s not where the magic of coaching will be witnessed.  Most coaches offer an introductory call so you can get a feel for how they work with their clients.  This call is a 2-way interview, but ultimately, you are the one investing money in your personal and/or professional growth.  This is your opportunity to decide whether this person is able/willing to listen to you, and where you are.  If you worked with a person who wasn’t, it likely contributed to a less-than-desirable experience.  


The good news?


You can be fully invested in your growth journey.

You can choose a coach who prioritizes your goals over their own opinions.

You can be completely honest with yourself, and your coach.

You deserve to work with someone who is actively engaged with their own edge.

You can step into the unknown with faith and trust, allowing the mystery to work in your favor.

You can choose to work with a coach who blends together grace, and grounded action.

You can take full responsibility for your growth process, and the results you create.

You are worthy of being seen, heard, and understood by the coach you choose to partner with.

You can find clarity on your specific needs and desires, and a coach who meets you there.

You can hire a coach who listens to you on an intellectual, emotional, and intuitive level.


The coaching relationship has the potential to literally change your life.  I and many of my network have experienced it, and you can as well by paying attention to the reasons you’re hiring a coach, the timing of this experience, and the person you choose to work with.  

How has working with a coach been beneficial, annoying, empowering, frustrating, etc for you?  Please share questions, thoughts, and/or reflections, I am curious to hear the variety of experiences you’ve each had with this unique relationship. 

And for anyone who is currently seeking to dive deeper into your creative service leadership, I am now accepting clients into my new program, Creatively Called this month.  Please visit the web page, and feel free to apply if this looks like it may be calling to you.


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