Life Coaching – Alexander R Davis

“I would like to start this off with a story.”

Let’s cut to the chase: I do not like this book. It lost me from the opening paragraphs and a *horrible* initial message, which it then follows up with a pile of decent enough, but brief, well-worn (and often half-lifted from other places) advice. But it could have contained the secret to eternal youth and I still would have taken issue with the opening message: you want it? Just want it hard enough and it’s yours. Believe in it, and the universe will provide. Law of attraction – “it really works!”.

Urm, no, sorry. That’s the kind of happy claptrap that gives life coaching such a bad name. The elements of truth in the statement (yes, I concede: there are things that ‘wanting it hard enough’ will help you to achieve) are glossed over for that ‘big wow’ factor of “dream it and it’s yours” kind of message, hammered home in all its wrongness by that opening story of a man, paralysed in an accident, refusing to believe his doctors and insisting he’ll walk out of the hospital. Which of course he does, because it’s a story, and the stories are only told about the miracle cases. But it is *so so so* dangerous and soul destroying for 99.9% of paralysed patients to think that either that will happen for them, or if it doesn’t then it’s their own fault for not wanting it badly enough. Urgh.

This is life coaching as faith-based mumbo-jumbo, and I cannot stomach it. My own cynicism and disdain would be met with a hearty, “Well, of course it won’t work for you – you don’t believe.” Just, no.

Life coaching in the real world, by non-charlatans, can be a wonderful thing. It can help you look again at your life, your stumbling blocks, your wants and needs, and your approach to everything. It can get the stuck unstuck. It can feel like a miracle, a sudden dawning that you’ve been assuming things were complicated but you were just getting in your own way. In short, in can be amazing and life changing. However, it can’t regrow severed spinal nerves, or dump the winning lottery numbers into your lap. Suggesting otherwise is both dangerous and a sign that someone is trying to sell you something. Oh sorry, you didn’t mean those kinds of life goals? But that’s not how you phrase it in the book, so not sorry at all!

The rest of the book falls into well-worn ruts. Set goals, make them SMART, build habits, increase your willpower, etc etc. I found nothing original in here, and it just references material from other books (e.g. The Power of Habit) a few times, which normally is more than fine but only if you add something more than this attempts. But then, the author probably believed really really hard that this would be a best-seller, and that’s all that it takes, right?!

Yes, that’s the sound of my eyes rolling. Recommendation, obviously, is to swerve this, totally.

NetGalley eARC: 71 pages
First published: 2019
Series: none
Finished reading 23rd May 2021 (after starting it and putting it straight back down again some time ago!)

My rating: 3/10 – dreadful opening premise, then just the same old but legitimate enough advice, albeit quite skimmed over.

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