Lately I have been quite vociferous on the topic of “pseudo-spiritualism”, having talked about it in a guest post Erica Suter’s Blog. I also touched on it during the second episode of the Brooklyn Strong Podcast reboot. Needless to say, it irks me….read on.
I’m going to put it out there the the biggest pitfall to coaching or leadership of ANY kind is doing it for the wrong reasons. There are plenty of valid reasons for seeking to lead people, but there are DEFINITELY wrong ones, and if you are doing this for the wrong reasons, you need to stop that shit.
One of the more comical aspects of me being a leader is how reluctant I was to do it once I realized all that it entailed. I didn’t know a lot of this when I was in the Navy. Hell, I just wanted to work on bombs and jets and get some good benefits.
I joined the United States Navy in July of 2000, and flew through the ranks for various reasons, to include: my intelligence, my ability to quickly learn, my (alleged) aptitude for leadership, timing, being in the right place at the right time, and dumb luck. The problem was that I only saw rank increases, at the time, as more chevrons on my sleeve and a higher rate of pay.
In fact, up until the rank of E-5 I was primarily motivated to make rank so that I could make more money and buy silly shit that I didn’t need. That was it. Hell, I was, like, 19-20 years old when I attained the rank of Second Class Petty Officer and all I wanted to do was have a nice car and and endless flow of video games.
After September 11th, 2001, I looked around me and notice that – gasp – the more rank I got, THE MORE PEOPLE I HAD WORKING FOR ME.
The moral of this story is that you REALLY need to take stock of WHY you are choosing to get yourself into a leadership position.
Luckily I had enough self-awareness (barely) to know what my motivations were, and a relative lack of self absorption to realize that there were people around me that I was trusted to lead. Also, I had no choice, so there was that. You know, the whole military contract thing…you can’t exactly quit because you’re scared of fucking up.
And, oh, yes…I was scared.
If I am at all good at coaching and leading, which is a claim I’m not even sure I want to make, it is for two simple reasons:
- I am completely and utterly terrified that I am actually nothing but a fraud and I’m going to let everyone down and screw up people’s lives.
- I actually give a shit about others. I like people. You may have to pick your jaw off of the floor after reading this, especially if you’ve hung out with me, but by and large people are pretty cool and almost impossible to figure out 100%, which make leading fun.
Please re-read #2 again at least three times. For reasons that are unclear to me, there are entirely too many people in leadership roles that don’t understand that ACTUALLY GIVING A FUCK is a fairly large prerequisite for leading. I mean, if you are coaching someone and don’t actually care about their improvement, it doesn’t take a Ph.D to understand that this isn’t optimal.
My eclectic background has given me the opportunity to see all sorts of people leading for all sorts of incorrect reasons:
- Military – Getting off on rank and authority. Loving to push people around. “Little man (woman/person) syndrome”
- Fitness – Social media thirst. Loving the rush of being an “Expert” (LOL). Basking in the concept of overcharging for shit programs and spending more time on Instagram than coaching.
- Wellness – Predatory “Guruism”. Megalomaniac tendencies. Helping in order to quell one’s own inadequacies. “Fixing” people.
Upon deeper analysis, all of these often stem from people looking to fill their own personal holes by using the trauma and vulnerabilities of others. This was bad in the fitness industry, yet I was shocked at how rampant it is in the ‘wellness” and “alternative medicine” sectors, where there are people who walk the path and call themselves “healers” all as a way to avoid their own personal trauma or other psych issues, pathological or otherwise.
Regardless of what sector you work in, using other people as spiritual or psychological dowsing rods while in an attempt to circumvent the work demanded of you by therapy or other self-awareness/behavioral change techniques is quite fucked up, to say the least. If your idea of living an “authentic” (grrrr….) life is to project your bullshit onto vulnerable people that are LEGITIMATELY in pain and looking for help, then I may have a few place to refer you to.
I have resources or can get you some.
This is why most industry/Pseudo-spiritual people irk me.