In the life of a person being coached, there is a question that raises its head. More than a few people have accused me, in a moment of anger, of being in it for the money. Of talking to them only because they pay me to.
On the face of the accusation (it’s never just a statement), they are right. My clients find me, they call me, we talk, and they pay me. Because coaching is intimate work, it is often easy to confuse coaching with talking to a stubborn friend who is totally involved in you and keeps asking questions about things that interest you. I’ve disappointed people who want to be friends after they quit coaching. I’m not totally involved in their lives anymore. It can be a shock.
I admire my clients. It takes guts to call on someone for help. I appreciate all of them. The struggle is almost always worth it—I’ve got the letters of amazement to prove it. “You didn’t give up on me.” “You showed me how to believe in myself.” And I do, with the constant work of the client who does all the heavy lifting of examining their lives and making changes.
Coaching is a calling. I didn’t have a divine light come from the sky. I wanted to help creative people be comfortable with their creativity in a world that often values compliance over exploration; I wanted to help people deal with change, because change is a constant in life and control isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And I wanted to allow people the space and support to re-invent themselves, as employees, writers, illustrators, parents, leaders–whatever life they choose.
Re-invention is not an easy path, but I’ve walked it with excellent results and I enjoy helping people make the choices they can live with happily.
And yes, I charge for doing this. In our culture, time is money. We get up and go to work in the morning because we need to eat, pay a mortgage, and drive a car. If you didn’t need to earn money, would you still go to your daily job? If you could do whatever you wanted in life, would you still go to your office? Exactly.
And so I charge for my talent, my education, my experience, my time and effort. For years, I had clients whom I coached for free. I wanted to “give back.” Over time, I noticed that many clients who were receiving free coaching often weren’t invested in their own progress. They missed calls. They called 15 minutes into the hour, then complained when I ended their session on time. I began to focus on their shortcomings, not on their abilities, so I chose not to continue coaching for free. “Free” has no value. “Free” is easy to not take seriously.
I still give back. I volunteer in high school helping kids who don’t know how to prepare for the work of being a writer. I help people write better, I volunteer my time to organizations. Just not to my practice.
And for my clients–they have unlimited emails between sessions. If they are in a spot that needs more work, there is extra time. And that is wonderful for both of us. It’s the reason I coach–you can change, if you want to do the work.