Personal Development Coaching BS: Signs your Coach is incompetent

Today I received one of these invites again: “Join the biggest list building event of the year.”

Hundreds of personal development coaching people group together to collect as many email addresses as they can. While it is understandable that we want the chance to speak to YOU, it should always be done in style. And with style, I mean: from the point of a Coach who wants to help people – not from the point of a marketing ninja who wants to sell as many products as possible.

Coach or Marketing expert?

Every coach can tell you that this event doesn’t have any benefit for participants. It works as follows: all of the hundreds of Coaches who participate in the event promote it. Every Coach offers a freebie. To access the freebie you have to sign up for his newsletter.

I believe that our job is not to exploit the weaknesses of people. Obviously, as it’s human nature, people will sign up to as many freebies as they can. They will store all of the files on their computer, perhaps briefly open one or two, but not gain knowledge.

It doesn’t matter how good or bad the free content is – if we collect information instead of learning skills we will not benefit from it. When it comes to establishing a relationship with a potential client, I can hardly think of worse scenario than someone who just signed up for 60 newsletters.

This and a few other things that bugged me caused me to write this article about personal development coaching BS for you. So here it goes:


Signs your coach might be incompetent

Email bombs

As soon as you signed up for a newsletter or purchased a training, you start to receive one email after the next. Each email promotes a wonderful training from “friends” of your Coach. While there is nothing wrong with recommending a good training of a partner or friend, it all has to be done in moderation, in good taste, and with nothing but the client’s best in mind.

The art is not to provide good information. Everyone already has great books on their bookshelves. The art and our legitimization to exist is to help people to turn information into knowledge and knowledge into skills.

As Coaches, we know that it takes about nine weeks to implement new habits. That is approximately how long it takes for the brain to remove neural pathways that do not serve us and form new ones.

The biggest challenge in personal development coaching is to help people to stay motivated and keep training and repeating until they have mastered a skill. If we try to sell clients training after training before they achieved the goals from the first one, we either don’t know what we’re doing or we don’t care that we are doing it wrong.

Let’s suppose that these Coaches have attended all of the training they recommend to their subscribers and clients. Everything else would be shady.

Unrealistic promises

A Coach cannot promise more or less than that his personal development coaching material is suited to give you the results you’re looking for. He cannot promise you will achieve the results. If you burn the training material or refuse to even communicate with your coach, you will not achieve your goal. Therefore, a good Coach will not guarantee any results.

More marketing than substance

It’s certainly a wonderful thing if you are able to write great email copy. Heck, I wish my own emails were better. What they are, though, is they are authentic and my aim is to provide value to my subscribers.

There is a certain type of Coach who is more focused on selling and marketing than helping. They have perfect copies with all of the words proven to influence a person to buy.

Ohhhhh and if you click, you’ll enter the perfect “funnel.” A funnel optimized to get you to buy — no matter if you need the service or not.

They make

  • unrealistic claims (you become Clint Eastwood in 2 weeks),
  • create a false sense of urgency (ONLY today) or,
  • mark regular parts of their training as time-limited gifts.

There is no doubt that this works. Surprisingly, it even works in Webinar REPLAYS. What I question is if a good Coach should resort to trickery and manipulation.

We all depend on income from our clients. Selling your services and products is perfectly alright. But the question is how you do it.

I believe trust is the most important factor in a client/coach relationship. What you tell your potential client about your offer should be the truth.

The alternative is focusing on growing your list and pushing out one offer from ... friends after the other. And finding more friends all the time who push out emails with your offers. No need for quibbling ... I'd hire such a Coach as an email marketing specialist any time of the day.

Personal Development Coaching too cheap

Good Coaches will not ruin themselves. While it could be just temporary desperation, if coaching is offered at a very low rate you might want to be extra careful. The hourly rate might sound very attractive, but there are a lot of costs involved with creating, maintaining and offering good coaching / self-coaching products.

A Coach might just have a few clients per week. A lot of time is taken up by admin, finding those clients, service and many other tasks.

Holistic view

If your personal development coach is only focused on your professional environment, he might not be the right one for you. In nearly all cases, factors from the personal lives of clients play a part in making the desired changes.

A perfect example of a wonderful and highly capable business coach is Dr. Mark Goulston.

Short sessions

Your personal development coaching partner only offers 20 or 30-minute sessions, it might be time to look for a new one. The same applies if you cannot reach him/her in person and are just dealing with ZenDesk support people.

A Coach cannot be expected to offer free consultation or be available right way, but he should be reachable for his clients.

He can do everything

A personal development coach can cover a lot but not everything. Especially not everything we are being asked for by people seeking help. A good coach knows his limits and will refer you to appropriate specialists (i.e. therapists, lawyers, doctors, relationship coaches.)

If your coach can “do it all” you might have reason to worry.

Personal Development Coaching BS

They take ownership of your problem. A good coach is not trying to create dependency.

He is also not telling you what to do. He provides you with tools that allow you to solve your problems and he asks questions and provides information that allows you to see just where you need to go to realize your vision.

While a good coach certainly gives concrete advice and makes you aware of habits that might stand in your way, a good coach would never say: “I am going to solve your problem.”

Coaching is not therapy and should have a concrete goal and timeline.


There are good Coaches around and there are bad ones out there. That someone is good at marketing does not necessarily imply he is bad at coaching.

That someone is great at marketing does not make him a competent Coach.

You are well advised to look for personal development coaching where the goal is your success and not to sell as many products as he can.

Ask yourself:

Is your Coach focused on helping you to make the most out of your coaching/self-coaching program and helping you to turn knowledge into skills?

If a personal development coach tries to trick or manipulate you rather than influence you, run.

Did you know that emotional intelligence keeps you from falling into these lizard-brain traps? Someone with a high EQ is much harder to manipulate (;

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