While the retail marketing engines are at full throttle during Q4, the personal development engines begin to redline in Q1.”Life-coaches” and “online-lifestyle” gurus cram our feeds and stretch our webinar capacities like a pair of yoga pants. I became an online pastor in 2012 and since then have attended countless conferences, symposiums, classes, and coaching sessions, and what I’ve discovered is that very little has changed. Each life-coach has a “funnel” and endeavors to get as many in it as possible. Now, as we launch our new year, we face what I call “funnel fatigue” as we try and navigate our lives.
I’ve always been a zagger. When the world zigs, I zag. I’m not this way for the sake of being oppositional, I end up zagging as I hold integrity to my awakened heart. I’m not part of any herd or tribe and if you are reading this, it’s likely you aren’t either. While many coaching businesses succeed by offering what I call the “beige Honda“, aiming toward the middle is uninspiring to me. This is why I call myself the “un-Coach.” This term always makes life-coaches and pastors very defensive because it exposes the flaw in their ethos which requires they derive economic gain from their clients. It’s unavoidable, they may want to help you, but behind it they are really helping themselves.
The simple test is this. Would they do this work if they weren’t paid for it? Do they have a business model that gets people sucked in and then asks them to pony up the dollars? Early on, I considered this model, but my conscience wouldn’t allow it. Just because a guru can command thousands, even millions for their content, doesn’t mean that what they offer will actually help you. Do you want your life to be different? Maybe you don’t need a coach, maybe you need an un-coach. Here’s how to tell the difference.
A life coach will make you feel really undisciplined so that you will pay to add new levels of effort and activity to your life. The assumption is that you just didn’t do enough, or that you are lazy. If that is actually true, then lazy people already know that adding more things to their list is an exercise in futility. Added complexity will only exacerbate laziness. The better coaches will address the underlying emotions of fear or pain that are paralyzing forward progress, but the typical coach never moves away from the ethos that if you can “Do” more, then you will get to “Be” more.
As the un-coach, I focus on your sense of “Being” not your list of “Doings.” I never charge a dime. I have no ulterior motive. I have no agenda to “convert” you. I don’t need your success story to promote myself. I make nothing off you. I have a job out in the world just like you. I simply share the wisdom that I have been given in a commensurate amount to what each person is ready to receive. I would never ask a lazy person to do more, that’s like asking a fat person to go on a diet, or the over-spender to make a budget. “Don’t imagine a purple elephant.” The world is full of useless advice and we are pay billions to stay stuck. Un-coaching is different. Until we realize we are human beings and not human doings, we will just keep up the facade and keep building our Fake ID’s.
Knowledge has very little power to help you. Life-coaches believe “content is king” and are very protective of “their information.” There is good content out there, but it’s not that good. It never is. Knowledge is useless without the skill to use it. That skill is called wisdom. Wisdom doesn’t belong to us. Wisdom flows through us. We can’t own it. We can’t package it, market it, and pretend it belongs to us. If a life-coach or pastor has wisdom that they believe will help the world and their goal is to profit from it, then they don’t really possess wisdom. What they have is a process, a religion, a business, or a set of life hacks for whom those who don’t know or desire wisdom will happily pay. I see this as the blind leading the blind. Sure, these “tips” can raise your income or upgrade your lifestyle, but be careful because you can gain the whole world, while losing your self. That’s not a helpful coach, but that is 99% of what is happening in this space.
People often say to me, “Keven, I’ve never heard this stuff before, you should….(insert some commercial product here).” The fact that I un-coach for free causes some to feel like they won’t get anything of value. It’s a common lie which drives the price of coaching into the stratosphere. So how is un-coaching different than coaching? I thought I’d share with you the typical un-coaching process so that you can decide if its right for you.
Usually a person reaches out because they are seeking improvement or relief. Once acquainted, we go through the set up process. Within three to five questions I uncover the existential question. I offer no fix, but instead I expose it to the air by comparing it to a free life. Through love, I pick the scab and wait for the person to react. For some this process takes months or even years as they bounce between moments of existential pain and satisfaction in their false life.
This is where coaching, therapy, and most processes fail the person. They have timelines and deadlines which force productivity. The flow is in the wrong direction. Activity distracts from the pain as it moves in swift motion to suppress it. Since I don’t chase the process, but allow it to bloom, usually, the person fades to the back drop, says stuff like “Keven didn’t help me” or “I was expecting a structure or a plan” and since the marketplace is so full of “solutions,” they often opt for superficiality because it quiets the existential exposure. People so desperately want the “garden“, rather than the “curse“, that they will pay huge sums to re-enter a surrogate garden rather than endure some time in the curse. In short, coaching offers a garden, while un-coaching offers a city.
After a long period of time, the person will usually return once they “wake up, sober up, or begin to see.” Until then, it takes a regular stream of dismantling to arrive in this very arid place. Until then, all I offer is more deconstruction. Once a person begins to see the raw kernel of who they really are, there can be no deep healing, no inner or outer transformation, no lasting change, no real life. The short cut is coaching, which is always an ascent, rather than a descent. Coaching builds the false self, rather than unearthing the true self.
Un-coaching can’t be done as a group and as such is a horrible business model. There isn’t a single use tool. It’s a one on one endeavor to see a person through. Be careful, coaches that take people half way into depth and healing have the best business model of all time. Often, people are given a taste of depth, or partial truth, and are thus converted or assimilated into a tribal pipeline which convinces them they are deep, spiritual, awake people. They are fed a steady stream of content which serves as a distorted mirror that accentuates certain parts. Not only does religion do this, but the “unaffiliated” do this better still. The religious false self is the most lost a person can ever be. These groups hate wisdom more than any other. Liberation form these institutions is extremely painful and unpopular, and these systems cost us the most money, time and energy. Do all you can to extract yourself from this quicksand.
Un-coaching is true liberation. A free self lives from an overflowing fountain of love and wants for nothing. A free self can enjoy everything within its time because it isn’t defined by any of it. A free self appears conservative to a liberal and liberal to a conservative. A free self is available for real relationships and is so familiar with the sweet smell of truth, that the stench of imposters or pseudonyms lose their appeal. A lot of people say they want this kind of freedom, but the un-coaching process is like cross-bearing in that it is an undefined, nebulous, free fall over something bottomless. It feels like loss. It’s dry like a desert. It’s hot like a crucible. However, the you on the other side is worth it.
As an un-coach, I so love and value the real you, that I would never charge you for this process of which I too have embarked. I serve merely as a concierge that can help you navigate the land of aridity and true self discovery. I respect you enough not to stop the process but to fan it into action. I respect your right to swallow the blue pill if you would prefer. If you want your life enough, then I will walk with you as far as you are able to go or as far as I am able to take you. Once you emerge, your life is really yours, and what you do with it really matters. There is a city on the other side with an entirely new set of rules, an internal rule of government, and the promise of heaven right here on earth.
May we all find ourselves along the way.