Go ahead. Try to find a few intelligent, positive comments about football player Dez Bryant hiring a life coach as we approach the 2010 NFL Draft. I’ll give you a few minutes to hit Google, Bing and Yahoo.

All done? Come up empty?

I know. I should have issued a snark alert before sending you down that road. There’s nothing like a story about your profession in the news to get a gauge on how it’s perceived by the public at large. It seems people are under the impression – still! – that their parents and friends are their ‘life coaches’ and how sad for you if you need some stranger telling you what to do.

Well, first off, kudos to you if your upbringing included regular doses of encouragement to follow your passion and hours spent plotting ways to make that happen. Mine didn’t, and I have some terrific parents. If I call my mother right now and tell her I’m bringing three friends over later, there will be a delicious meal on the table and she’ll regale them with tales until they can’t stop laughing. But if I call her and tell her I’m going to Italy by myself, she’ll tell me I’m crazy because I don’t know my way around and I don’t know the language (this actually happened, by the way).

Now let’s run that same set of scenarios by a life coach. Well, unless my favorite Food Network cook, Ina Garten, has hung a coaching shingle, I don’t see a life coach setting out a dazzling meal for me and my friends. But if I told a coach I was going to Italy by myself, she’d likely ask what took me so long.

My parents taught me to respect my elders, have good manners, behave, show up on time, and work hard. At no point was I told I can be anything I want to be or that I am responsible for creating my life. That’s not a knock on my parents, it’s just a fact. Some of my clients have had wonderfully supportive parents, but it’s also true that very often parents advise from a place of comfort and fear. There are a lot of people who benefit greatly from validation and accountability from an objective outsider as they work toward a goal.

As for friends being life coaches, that’s asking an awful lot from friends. Let’s say you’re an administrative assistant who wants to switch into a medical career. You share this desire with a good friend, who encourages you and tells you to go for it. Then what? Does she help you form a concrete goal around that desire? Does she assist you with a weekly action plan to bring you closer to it? Does she assign exercises to break you through blocks that come up around taking steps you’re resisting? I’m guessing she has a life of her own and may not be able to see you through the minutiae of your move.

But let me bring this back to Oklahoma State running back Dez Bryant, a sound prospect in the draft based on what he does on the field but who has an immaturity tag on him because of punctuality and other issues in his college career. Certainly teams need to look at the whole man, the best overall employee, so to speak. Where might his hiring a life coach fit into this?

According to Armando Salguero’s piece in the Miami Herald, “This coach is making sure Bryant follows a regimen and gets where he needs to be on time. This coach is making sure Bryant manages his life in an orderly manner. This life coach is basically helping Bryant develop habits that will allow him to be a responsible person and productive player. And this coach is expected to be with Bryant until those habits are fully formed.”

But what about his parents, one might ask? Weren’t they his first and most important life coaches? You decide:

“Bryant was conceived when his mother was 12 years old,” Salguero writes. “He is the product of what can legally be described as statutory rape, as his father was approximately 40 years old at the time. Bryant's mom had three children by the time she was 18 and was in jail serving time for drug dealing by the time she was 23.

“Bryant’s father? He has been out of the picture since that fateful winter night when he kicked his pre-teen son out on the street because the kid took too much food out of the refrigerator. Bryant lived wherever he could after that. He stayed with friends. He stayed with coaches. He even lived in cars for a short time. Can you now understand why he doesn’t have all the life skills down to a science?”

Yeah, bad decision to hire a life coach. Maybe he could just get more friends.

 

Nancy Colasurdo is a practicing life coach and freelance writer. Her Web site is www.nancola.com. Please direct all questions/comments to FOXGamePlan@gmail.com.