I Hired A Life Coach, And It Was Totally Worth The Money

by Jeff Barrett

Call me a skeptic, but I never believed in life coaching. I equated it with the many people who self-identify as marketing gurus, ninjas or sherpas. It's a fancy title, but hard to prove. I've made jokes. I retweeted others.

If I were a Life Coach, the first thing I'd do is let all my clients know they've just hired a Life Coach, so it's already too late. — Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) November 27, 2015


I was wrong. I can admit that now. We live in a culture where seeking self-help is still a sign of weakness, but working on our muscles is a sign of strength. Exercising a muscle is obvious, and the results are visual. But mental exercise can't be seen, and the results sometimes aren't as obvious.

Why did I need help? In 2015, I won the largest award of my career, my business had never done better and I got engaged. But, I have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. So do you. We all do.

Microsoft's study last year concluded that the goldfish — an animal associated with poor focus — has an attention span of nine seconds. The human brain now has an attention span of eight seconds. To be positive, our digital lifestyle has made us expert multitaskers, but the negative consequence has been our attention span.

While writing these first five paragraphs, I checked my email twice, emailed my editor once, got up for a glass of water, looked for an article on short attention spans and then ironically clicked on an article called "13 Celebrities I Didn't Know Were Dead."

For a brief moment, I forgot what I was doing entirely. That's why I needed help.

So, I contacted Alyssa Dyksterhouse, a life coach that specializes in cases with ADHD, to help work on my focus. We started working at the end of last year.

Dyksterhouse said,

Jeff has a great ability to create possibility and connect dots. Due to his immense talent, that is simultaneously a brilliant strategy and a curse. When we started working together he was like a pinball bouncing from idea to idea. First we created clarity about what he really wants. Now, each conversation we have, we filter out all ideas that do not serve his bigger vision. He has grown his business, had television appearances and created a successful podcast, all inside the greater goal of what he is creating. I do this work day in and day out with clients be it in the realm of work, relationship, well-being, self and care. No topic is off-limits or taboo.

I didn't know how much money I was leaving on the table until I started to focus and prioritize my efforts. That's something that seems so simple to execute, but it's so complex when you have the mind I do.

I'm in PR, and I constantly think about how to connect people with brands, brands with projects and people with other people. It's nearly impossible for me to stop thinking that way.

I had to learn how to train and exercise the right muscles. It's no different than hiring a personal trainer. Some of us will just pick up weights and say, “I have this.” Some of us will hire a trainer. Most will do something in the middle, Google the right form and learn a thing or two.

That's the same when it comes to our minds. Not everyone needs or wants to hire a life coach, but we do need to focus more on our focus. Having access to all the information and people we do now is great, but the big picture becomes blurry when you're out of focus.

There are over 40,000 coaches in the world. It's a $2 billion industry and growing. Most of these coaches are certified by the International Coach Federation. A master certified coach requires 200 hours of specific training, 10 hours of mentorship and 2,500 hours of coaching experience with 35 clients. It's intense.

If you're going to work with a coach, make sure he or she has trained. Ask questions about his or her background. Ask what his or her speciality is.

Dyksterhouse said,

This is an emerging industry. As a coach, I support people in discovering the blind spots that prevent them from getting exactly they want. The tricky thing about said spots is they are hidden from our view and no amount of introspection will shine a light on them. And our friends will seldom point them out to us. Sometimes outside perspective is a positive thing. In adhering to the International Coaches Federation's 'Core Competencies,' I am adept at asking questions to bring forth an awareness that is followed up with action. And that is the access to awesome.

The secret to success is not your own talent. It's the people you work with who can maximize your talent.