Coaches, Mentors, Experts, Authorities Note

Coaches, Mentors, Experts, Authorities Note

IMG_2148-1.JPGThink back to when you first learned to ride a bicycle.

Imagine how easy it would have been to learn if someone simply gave you some written material, each issue focused on one part of cycling. For example, here’s a webinar showing how a bike works; here’s an ebook on the best position for your saddle; an infographic with the different types of bikes for different aged riders, and so on.

What if someone invited you into a group where you could discuss riding a bike with others who were learning? Would that get you riding?

What if someone showed you how they rode – “look, here’s me riding to the shops; here’s me riding up a hill; etc – just follow what I do and you’ll be just as successful.”

Of course those methods are helpful.

Will they teach someone to competently ride a bike? Will they even give someone the level of knowledge, confidence and clarity they need to begin riding a bike?

Maybe. For a few. Depending on a whole range of things such as individual capability, experience, learning style. Of course, the theory would be if you can’t learn by those methods then that’s your fault – you’re not committed enough, or passionate enough, or intelligent enough (insert your argument here).

Sound familiar?

To me, that’s the way many self-proclaimed gurus / experts / coaches / authorities / mentors operate.

“I’ve given you what you need and if you haven’t started riding a bike on your own, well bad luck. I’ve done what I can.” Read: “I’ve taken your money, I’ve thrown you a range of bonuses and goodies, I’ve told you snippets of what I do and what I plan and that’s the end of my responsibility: I believe I’ve given value and people sing my praises.”

As a qualified educator and coach educator myself, that approach sucks. It’s sheep dip treatment. The “teaching” is all one way.

Helping people to learn, (which is what most IMers argue they do with their courses programs and groups), is interactive. It’s about providing learning materials for the bulk of the class while praising the stars and engaging their ability at the same time as picking up the stragglers and identifying what they need to meet the course objectives.

What if someone did only half of the earlier activities but actually held the bike for you while you got on, and maybe held it steady for you while you started pedalling? Would that increase the chances of you being able to ride?


Here are some tips for all of you Coaches, Experts, Mentors, Gurus, Authorities:

– use the sheep dip for teaching most if you must, just check each of them are learning and applying
– highlight the stars and use their energy for the benefit of the class
– check in with the stragglers to see what they need to be able to meet your course objectives

Of course, if you set up a group or a class or a program with no objective then no one can test your ability as a teacher can they?

Make sure you are explicit on what someone can expect to achieve through your offering.

If you state you “hold their hand” then explain how you do that. I’ve come across IMers who believe this is achieved simply by providing a series of prerecorded Webinars. That is not hand holding. Some learners need direct support until they get clarity.

If you do not want to hold anyone’s hand and help the stragglers then be clear upfront about that. Position your course as an Elite group for elite experienced and already capable people who do not need their hand held because you will not do that.

At the close of a course, program or group, if one person has not met objectives, rather than blame them, think about how you may have failed them.

Finally, don’t change your promised program once you started it until your cohort has completed or explicitly agreed to a change. Especially if they paid for delivery of a particular program. Just because you think you got it wrong, or realised it’s too much work, or have found something better doesn’t give you the right to break a contract – unless you consult with those who paid. For a free program then you could get away with it but people will be left midstream unless you transition them to your new material.

Yes, it’s your program and you can do what you want … but it’s also ‘their’ program once they have started, and, you are building a reputation.

Make sure it’s a good one.

10 thoughts on “Coaches, Mentors, Experts, Authorities Note

  1. Some interesting ideas. Certain things can be learned by reading, listening and watching but a lot more gets down by doing.

    I remember learning to ride a bike. Had to get on the thing and face my fears. Good times. 🙂

  2. This is an interesting take on things and definitely something to think about when creating a course or product. The bike analogy is excellent! Personally, I’m cool with whatever level of hand holding there is, as long as it’s what was promised. I don’t do hype, don’t sell me hype. I want honesty and that’s it. 🙂

    1. You’re right – doing and learning from errors is the best teacher (if you know what to do). Thanks Miriam.

  3. Excellent post. Too many do just give Webinars or material and leave people to learn themselves. While I’m happy to learn that way, not everyone is. Also, one method doesn’t work for everyone.

    1. And that’s fine Alexandria, so long as the vendor is clear in letting people know exactly what they can expect. If you promise … deliver.

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