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4th UTNE READER RESPONSE January-February 1999 Issue

Tina Meyers Team Me, by Lynette Lamb, pages 82-84

Is there anyone out there that can tell you how to play the game of life and win? If you're thinking, probably not, think again! The personal/professional coach is a person that you can hire to evaluate and inventory your life in eight different areas - career, money, friends and family, physical environment, fun and recreation. The coach does an initial face-to-face interview and then the coach and client speak once a week for half an hour over the telephone. The coach's job is to encourage, brainstorm, remind, prod, and inquire about values, goals, and progress. Another job of the coach is to encourage you to share your very private and guarded professional and personal goals with them to help you improve and evaluate the areas that are rated low by the client. By hiring a coach to help you achieve your goals you are getting a unique package. The coach is a "combination of mentor, friend, therapist, and cheerleader."

Business executives were among the first to use coaches in 1992 and there are more than 5,000 coaches worldwide today. There are institutes all over the U.S. that train individuals to become coaches for $345 per weekend. Once they are certified to coach they can begin to coach individuals at the cost of $20 to $900 per month; the average is $200. In a survey, it was found that most coaching relationships last at least six to eight months. This is a very lucrative occupation. One coach in the article from Minneapolis was self-employed and making a solid six-figure salary by coaching 30 clients at $250 a month, for only four mornings a week.

With competitiveness in the work force and broken relationships in society, I would think that a coach would have to be very perceptive and also intuitive. A coach deals with many aspects of a person's life. To help assess career and personal goals and meet those goals, most likely a person's personal life must also be scrutinized. I can't help but ask why anyone would hire someone to do this. Isn't that what my friends and family are for? Wouldn't they give me sound and trusted advice? According to Lamb, human relationships are complex, and often the advice given by loved ones comes with a personal agenda. The coach provides objectivity.

Technology is one method used in communicating from coach to client. Many clients are in different states and communication is usually done over the phone or the Internet. Last fall's Carnegie Mellon Internet study found that hours on the Internet increased the amount of depression and loneliness individuals felt. Face-to-face contact provides a support and reciprocity that technology cannot. I think that it would be very hard to totally trust and confide in a stranger on a continual basis via the Internet, telephone, or any other type of technology available. There are many intricacies to a relationship and I believe the coach must fall back on some very basic counseling techniques. However, the founder of Coach University (CU), states that "coaches become central to their clients' lives". Obviously, the trust factor is not an issue for most. The job of the coach is not to be a therapist. The focus is not on looking back, but looking forward. Coaches are not trained to evaluate the causal effect of a person's hard ships in life. Their job is to help their client achieve their goals.

There are many changes that have taken place in society in the last several decades. I can remember singing an anthem in school about brotherhood, and I vaguely recall something I learned in school about a "golden rule". Do these themes even pertain to the society of today? We have become a nation of self-absorbed and self-centered individuals were we "create a positively selfish focus on balance, well-being, and quality of life" (84). Can't we assess our own lives and make positive change without paying someone? If we ask administration or colleagues to evaluate a new program or schedule, the first question that is usually asked is - how will this benefit me? The title of this article "Team Me" directly addresses the trend of individualism. I see it in the classroom everyday. Students do not like to do cooperative group work, they either do not know how to facilitate interdependence, or they simply want all of the glory. In the area of business, very seldom does a team member share the recognition with other team members.

I like the idea of focusing your goals and developing ways to improve yourself, but when it comes to making your personal life a commodity, I draw the line.

-- Anonymous, May 11, 1999

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