How Not To Be A Motivational Speaker Or Life Coach And Why You Should Avoid Them

Photo by Hermes Rivera

Today, more than ever, there is a surge of trendiness around becoming a motivational speaker or life coach. I honestly can’t escape the social media ads that encourage me to sign-up for webinars that will teach me how to “Make millions with these five easy steps.”, or “Become a professional coach and work from home!”, or better yet, “Come to Bermuda with John Smith for a five-day, life-changing event to help you find your focus.”

So, why is this?

Why I Can Speak To This

Well, I have a confession to make…I was once in the business myself.

It’s hard to own up to, but it’s true. The individual(s) company(ies) shall remain nameless for their sake, but the principals and tactics they use will not go undisclosed in this article.

So, why did I get involved? Simply put, I was trying to “be a professional” and treat every client equally. I was on-boarded to help them build their marketing campaigns and manage teams, but wound up at the end of each project feeling like I had lost my soul.

The Financial Method To Their Madness

However, more often than not, the vast majority are truly wolves in sheep’s clothing. The most obvious point to make is that most people that work in this industry are after one thing: your money.

They keep their introductory offerings low or “free” to get you hooked on the Kool-Aid they call “self-importance” — also known as making you feel good about your regrets and shortcomings. They’ll offer it to you in a full-to-the-brim, Slurpee-size cup with a fun mustache straw and fill that sucker up until you feel like you’ve had your full of warm and fuzzy.

Then they get you with a free course, a VIP conference ticket, or a complimentary book. That’s all it takes to get your email address, phone number and demographic information. At this point, you’ve given them your virtual soul in exchange for a refill of positivism.

You’re now on your way to a subscription-based offering of only $99.99/mo. or 3 easy payments of $149.99 for a course or brick of 1:1 “life improvement sessions”. Both of which you will forget about — and they know it. Six months later (or longer) you’re out of pocket for hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars and have achieved very little except an inbox full of “5 tips for success” and links to Youtube videos on how wonderful you are.

Multiply a $99.99/mo. subscription for a motivational speaker or or life coach training by 100,000 members and you’ll see why they have the wealth that they promise you’ll get too if you just “follow these five simple steps to success”. This doesn’t include their book royalties, endorsements and advertising fees. Trust me — it doesn’t stop there.

DISCLAIMER: I’m a red-blooded American and believe in free-enterprise. The fact that these people make gobs of money is not the issue here. How they do it, however, is.

OK, you get it now. Their motivation and ease-of-wealth processes are exposed. But how do they get away with it and why does it work so well?

Great question — here’s the answer.

The Mind Game That Is Motivation

Stop doing that.

I know, I haven’t provided the cliche introduction to this section like a good warm and fuzzy motivational writer should, but hear me and listen closely.

The primary reason why these people are as successful as they are is because they know how to get in your head. They play on your emotional state and eagerness to find purpose in your life. This can also be known as the primary mind-game of consumerism in today’s society (a topic for another day), but hear me on this.

It is so important to know who you are, what you want and what your limitations are before you go into any type of business, and here’s why. I once worked with a person who talked about how becoming a CEO was his life goal and he was going to do anything to get there. He wanted to start a marketing company and was on his way. He had a “team” of freelancers, pretty consistent accounts, and about $15,000 per month coming in.

Not to shabby.

But here’s the catch: He thought he was invincible. He was the proud owner of over a dozen self-help and motivational books about overcoming any obstacles and being whoever you wanted to be in life. He constantly quoted gurus and ate up every piece of “advice” that he had purchased. He had the hook, line and sinker wrapped around his ankles, dragging him through the false hope that was his future being a successful business owner.

So, why didn’t it work for him?

Simple. He had no idea how to evaluate his short-comings — no less how to fix them. He lived in an endless cycle of debt, refused to practice self-evaluation and insisted that he didn’t need any experience outside of his own endeavors (aka had very little external work experience) and a collection of guru memoirs.

This is the primary issue with today’s motivational speakers and life coaches. They fail to teach “professionals” how to literally craft a business, be honest and upfront about challenges they’ll face, and provide them with a blanket statement of false hope based on a very narrow chasm of ideas.

He failed, and many others do, for many reasons, but mostly because they hang on the every word of complete strangers.

So, before you go and pick up that new paperback or download the latest e-reader version of your favorite guru’s book, take a step back and consider a few things.

Key Points For Consideration

The bottom line is that life is short and your time on Earth is limited. So many people try to make a name for themselves by becoming famous or having a position of authority, but I have to ask people one simple question:

Will you sacrifice your moral compass and integrity for a legacy of promoting the void that is false hope?

Honestly and seriously consider that for a moment.

Consider these additional key points as well as you begin your journey in your start-up or entrepreneurial endeavor:

  • Avoid people who think they know everything and can tell you how to be successful. Your success is your own and will never be an identical journey of someone else. A tenured confidant is worth ten times more than a know-it-all.
  • Find a mentor and don’t pay them a dime. Any good, decent, solid and morally sound successful professional will want to invest in your life and future for nothing other than the satisfaction that they made a difference.
  • Stop paying for ideas and processes that are too good to be true. There is no quick process for success. It takes blood, sweat, tears and years of networking and innovation. Anything that is too good to be true always is.
  • To thine own self be true. Shakespeare was right. The most successful people are ones that know who they are and aren’t ashamed of it.

Remember, success is defined not by how much money you make, materials goods you own or gurus you follow, but by the legacy you leave behind for others to find motivation and direction from. What you do or don’t do today, will change tomorrow.

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Finally writing for pleasure instead of employment.