The Joys and Anguish of the Coach as a Lifelong Learner - International Coaching Federation
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The Joys and Anguish of the Coach as a Lifelong Learner

Posted by Wendy Edelstein, PCC, CPCC, MA | November 27, 2020 | Comments (4)

I have yet to meet a coach who doesn’t value learning. You’ve likely had the experience of attending a talk (in the pre-COVID-19 days) or webinar where you’ve heard about a wildly inspirational framework that could elevate your coaching to the mythical next level. During the presentation, you get a taste of this new tool or methodology and then, as predictable as rain, the speaker details a time-sensitive opportunity to engage further at a seductively reduced cost.

As coaches we are eager to latch onto the next “shiny new tool” or approach. After all, any carpenter has more than a hammer in their toolbox. More tools must lead to greater mastery and the ability to promise more value to clients, right? But there can be a cost to this, especially for new coaches who may be cash-strapped and working to establish a business.

In this article, we’ll explore why these offers are so compelling, review a cautionary tale, and learn how to evaluate each opportunity, helping you navigate your way through the minefield of offers.

The Urge to Improve

Chances are, you wouldn’t have become a coach if you weren’t a lifelong learner. Among our values, most of us include personal growth or development. We love learning, and we are curious! As with any strength, though, there’s a shadow side to this value if taken to an extreme. Deciding whether or not to invest in a program presents an opportunity to assess what you need at this point in your development.

Rest assured, it’s not wrong or bad to invest in yourself. However, there are some questionable motivations for doing so:

“Forever a Beginner:”  You persist in seeing yourself as a coach who doesn’t know enough (never mind having invested thousands of dollars in an accredited coaching training program). The unconscious belief that you’re not enough can lead to an over-readiness to whip out the credit card.

FOMO (fear of missing out): It’s so seductive and easy to fall victim to FOMO when you know other coaches who are pursuing that next cool training. You’ll know FOMO is driving your decision when you rush into the situation headlong and breathlessly.

Too Much at Once: A cousin of FOMO, you can’t bring yourself to say no. You find yourself spread thin, not giving any of the courses the attention you’d like, resulting in a waste of money.

The Not-So-Discerning Consumer

Those offers for that seemingly essential, promising program strike us at our most vulnerable. They offer something that we “couldn’t find any other way.” I’ve been there. Soon after becoming a certified coach, I attended a free three-day event held by two business coaches who have created education and community for holistic practitioners (their term) seeking to earn six figures.

A friend had recommended that I attend the event but told me to leave my credit card at home. The offer came on the afternoon of day three. The window of opportunity was small. To join this warm, loving community, one need only invest $5,000 USD.

I wasn’t so naïve that I was unable to recognize that I was in a sales pipeline. Nonetheless, my mind raced. My pulse began its own sprint. I was faced with the decision: Do I plunk down my credit card to add this “invaluable” resource to my library? People I had met and connected with were saying yes. I wanted to say yes! So, I did.

Unfortunately, I never delved deeply into this group. Ultimately, it didn’t feel like a fit. I hadn’t listened to my intuition, instead succumbing to the moment’s emotions. Lesson learned.

Getting to Yes

I am not advocating for rejecting every opportunity. Instead, I recommend slowing down to check in with what you need.

Pause. Take a deep breath. Connect—really connect—with your body and inner wisdom and then explore the following:

  1. Why do I want to do this? How is this particular training going to help me? How will it be relevant to the clients I serve? How might it help me grow my business (if you’re an entrepreneur)?
  2. Timing. Assess what’s currently on your plate and be honest with yourself. If you’re investing the money, will you be able to invest the time and energy to get what you need from the opportunity?
  3. Return on investment. What do I hope to gain from this experience? Will it increase my bottom line? Will it help me differentiate myself from other coaches? Will it round out my set of tools? Will my investment yield a significant return? What makes this worthwhile?

After taking these steps, if you feel excited and clear about your decision, only then should you open your wallet.

Headshot of author Wendy Edelstein

Wendy Edelstein, PCC, CPCC, MA

Wendy Edelstein, PCC, CPCC, MA, is a Career & Leadership Coach at Changeover Coaching. She coaches leaders to bring out the best in their team and create impact for their organization and beyond. For more information, visit

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Comments (4)

  1. says:

    Great advice, Wendy. Thanks for important insights. I could see me in a “been there and done that” scenario a couple of times. I especially like the idea of learning that ‘I am enough.’ I also appreciate your willingness to take time to help mentor people new to coaching through your experience and reflection! Thank you!

  2. Adeyanju says:

    Spot on Wendy!

    I was an Internal Coach for about 5 years before starting my Coaching Practice in 2018. My card went before me in the first two years. I’m a lot wiser now and using my business plan to determine what I sign up for.. If its not in the plan and with an application pathway, I’ll pass. It’s tough, really tough…….

    Once we determine a set of criteria our “cards” have to go through, it becomes easier.

    Thanks for sharing! Great relief to know I’m not alone…..

  3. Great advice Wendy. I definitely need to look at ROI. How many tools do I really need vs merely desire and, for me, how am I routinely applying/leveraging what I’ve learned. I likely could contribute even more value if I focused on a few impactful approaches. thanks!

  4. Carmen Acton says:

    Great advice Wendy. I definitely need to look at ROI. How many tools do I really need vs merely desire and, for me, how am I routinely applying/leveraging what I’ve learned. I likely could contribute even more value if I focused on a few impactful approaches. thanks!

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