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Navigating the dark side of coaching: what you need to know

A coach in my community just told me about a documentary called, A Very British Cult, about the suffering caused by a “coaching” organization known as Lighthouse. 

Less a coaching company than a very real cult, a Guardian newspaper article writes that the company used “coercion, isolation, monopolizing their [clients‘] time and energy, and eventually, once they were weakened enough, straightforward bullying, draining them of their financial resources.”

This coach told me that a couple of his clients mentioned it to him and caught him off guard. He asked for my suggestions on how to address their concerns.

Here’s what I told him: 

  1. There are unscrupulous lawyers, doctors, therapists, politicians, accountants and financial consultants. Always will be. 

Some of the most successful companies in the world, in the most regulated fields, do unscrupulous things. 

Here are a handful of examples from the UK and the US: the Barings Bank collapse, the Enron scandal, the Maxwell pension scandal, the LIBOR bank scandal, Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme, Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the Wells Fargo Account fraud scandal.

Then there’s the collapse of top companies like Northern Rock, the Woolworth Group, top accounting firm Arthur Andersen, Toys “R” Us, General Motors, Kodak, and Blockbuster. 

Never get defensive in a situation like this. It makes it feel like you’re nervous or have something to hide. 

When we get defensive about something that’s indefensible, we will feel inauthentic.

You can reply simply, “It sounds like a horrible situation. There will always be bad faith actors in every field.”

Unless your clients are worried about something you’ve done, they’ll likely move on quickly.

  1. The coach told me he did something similar but he felt (in his words) “triggered.”

I told him I get it. And that maybe it’s time to look at his own views of coaching. I asked him:

Do you think coaching is manipulative? Do you think coaching is a Ponzi scheme? Do you think coaching is a field full of empty promises and charlatans? 

It’s ok if you do. That tells me you’re an ethical coach with a high moral code. And also that it’s time to build your professional self-esteem. 

Here’s what to do: 

1) Gather a list of every compliment every client has ever sent you. Read them whenever you feel low. This really helps. 

2) Make a list of all the ways your own coaches have helped you.

3) Ask your clients, past and present, for a list of ways that coaching has been valuable to them. 

4) Brainstorm a dozen ways that you could increase the value of your coaching to your current clients. 

5) Regularly create ways to delight and astonish your clients.

The coach apologized for taking up my time with his concerns.

I told him not to disempower his very real concerns in this way because that will further lower his professional self-esteem. No need to do that. 

Acknowledge your clients’ valid concerns if they’re there. Acknowledge your own concerns. And do the work to build your faith and confidence in coaching, the most valuable of professions. 

A note for my powerful women readers

Last week, my wife, Monique DeBose, performed on a stage in front of 1,500 people. I want to let you into her journey in her own words: 

“It was a surreal moment – a milestone in this journey called ‘my life.’

I know what’s inside me. I know the power, the beauty, the exuberance, the wow factor…and accessing it has been a challenge for a lot of my life. It’s frustrating AF. 

Knowing who you are and knowing there are walls and valleys that separate you from who you know you are.

So, to be able to walk out onto a stage in a gorgeous, shiny, sequined onesie and say, ‘Helllllloooooo Detroit!’ was monumental.

The singing part was good too. I say that almost as a joke, but there’s some truth to the blasé nature of that statement. The singing was fine. I’m sure I’ll look back at the tape and reassess, but from where I sit inside myself today, it was just fine.

I know what’s available inside and from my definitely skewed perspective, I didn’t deliver all that I am on that stage. I was constantly monitoring so many factors:

Am I looking directly at people?

Did I get a big enough breath?

Relax my throat. Relax it.

Why is that guy looking at his phone?

Move your body more!

Walk to the other side of the stage? No. Stay here.

Oh, she’s really into it. Sing more to her.

Should I throw the script out the window and just improvise with them?

Stick to the script. Stick to the script bitch!


Don’t forget to nail this joke before you go into the next song.

You do belong.

Saaaannnnnng girl!

Oh, you’re definitely not going to hit that note. Abort! Abort!

And thank you Detroit.

It was a fucking ride. One I am SO grateful I got to go on…but jeez. I was tired, not just physically from singing, but tired energetically from managing all the thoughts.

Anyone else’s brain like this?

I’m not ashamed to admit it. I used to be. But at this point…forty some years into the game…

I truly believe, when we’re willing to own all the parts of ourselves, only then are we truly free.

I’m going for freedom people!

A masterclass from the wings…

The artist I opened for is Avery*Sunshine. I am so grateful for the energy she created. It was a masterclass to watch her perform from the wings. I watched her create real connection with her audience. She let the spirit of the music take completely over her body with seeming no concern about ‘looking silly’ or being ‘too vulnerable’. She trusted her voice. She seemed to trust the entire experience.

I was wowed. I have such gratitude for the opportunity to be her opener, to practice my craft, to feel all of what I felt.

I am so grateful for my songs, for my courage, for my messages, for my listening. It all matters. There were people in the audience that I was meant to sing to!

Why is it that from a very young age, we are taught not to ask for, go after or even dream about what we want? Or even worse, we are taught to want what the world wants. 

Money, fame, and success… we should be taught to want what our individual hearts desire. No pressure or hate, or shame should come with it. 

As women, we have been taught to hold back, stay in the shadows, listen to Corporate America, the status quo, and do as we are told.

The other day, I shared a vulnerable post about the realness and challenges I face, alongside the joys in my life. 

You may not realize this but it can feel very vulnerable sharing my soul in this way. People are often quick to jump into ‘advice mode’, instead of simply acknowledging that this is all part of life and I am who I am. So I was really moved to receive the following reply:

Hi Monique,

Thank you so much for sharing this with your readers. I felt shivers down my spine and really lived by your authenticity and whole truth. 

So often, I look at successful people and think how have they got it all together when I am losing at littlest of things. 

My 15 yrs old girl won’t listen to me, does not want to be treated like a child but neither like an adult. Taking no responsibility for anything.’

Thank you for using your voice in the world. Do something positive with it. It does make a difference.

Join my More with Monique 5 day Challenge, from April 24-28

I’m about to lead a 5-day free training, to help women like you (like me!) live life on our own terms.

  • Does your heart crave excitement but the voices in your head keep urging you to take the “safe” path?
  • Do you secretly yearn to be seen but you constantly find yourself hiding?
  • Do you feel you are capable of so much more than your friends or family could ever imagine?

If any of these are true for you, I get it. Because… they have all been true for me. 

Join me to become the confident, connected, sensual and fully expressed woman you were always meant to be!

Join me at no cost! Here’s to choosing MORE…


RICH HERE: I’ve been a witness to Monique’s journey over the past 17 years… 

I have seen her highs – award-winning singer songwriter, award-winning playwright, 3 albums released and millions of views/streams, Master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology and membership of The Association of Transformational Leaders. And I’ve seen her lows, her struggles and her vulnerability. 

And I know of no one better to lead women on a journey into their own power. Join her, or forward this to a friend. 

Love. Rich


PS. Whenever you’re ready – here are 3 ways you can drastically increase your income and impact as a world-class coach… 

  1. Rich Litvin’s 1:1 Coaching Playbook: Learn my top 10 proven tools for coaching elite clients in this live training. Over 100 people joined me for our first live call – and all calls are recorded, so it’s not too late to join me…
  2. Rich Litvin’s Group Coaching Playbook: Make group coaching a lucrative and fun part of your business. Effortlessly fill and lead impactful group programs.
  3. The $100K Club: A six month Master’s Degree in High-Ticket Client Creation. The price increases as we get closer to the start date. Secure your spot now and start your journey to 6-figure coaching success today! 🚀

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