In this article, we’ll explore some key points to understand about specialist coaches and what it does — and doesn’t — mean when a coach says she specializes in a particular niche.
When you work with a specialist coach, it’s natural to want to trust her and follow her advice. After all, you’re paying her the big bucks for her expert advice, right?
In my view, following a coach’s advice automatically isn’t a wise move. It’s generally not in your best interests to give a coach (or anyone else) that much say in your life. If the advice makes sense, is a good fit for your personality and circumstances, and feels like something you want to do, fantastic. If not, there’s no need to follow it.
Why I believe “expert” coaches don’t necessarily know what’s right for you
Why do I recommend that you be cautious about taking advice from coaches, even in their specialty areas?
Firstly, coaches are not necessarily experts in their niches. This is one of the things that drives me crazy about the field of life coaching. It’s not unusual for a coach to declare that she’s specializing in a particular niche, even when she doesn’t have extensive experience in it or a deep understanding of it. There’s certainly no need to trust the “expert” advice of someone who’s not an expert. To learn more about this and why it happens, you can read my specialists aren’t necessarily experts article.
Secondly, even for real experts, there isn’t one right answer. In every field I know about, the experts don’t all agree with each other. Major issues are hotly debated. Experts have different views, different theories, different perspectives. Why should you take as gospel the advice of one expert when other experts would tell you something completely different?
Thirdly, even a true expert doesn’t necessarily know what the right path is for you, given your values, philosophy, personality, and circumstances. You’re in the best position to judge that.
I recommend seeing a coach’s advice as a suggestion for you to consider
While I’m not a fan of blindly following a coach’s advice, I do see the value in working with a coach who’s truly knowledgeable in a particular area of interest for you, if you trust her expertise and feel she’s a good match for you. Instead of taking her advice as a commandment you must follow, however, I think it’s healthier and more productive for you to see her as giving you a suggestion.
Even if your coach throws a fit and insists that you absolutely must do what she says or terrible things will happen to you. (And, yes, I’ve seen this happen.) You decide which of her suggestions you follow and to what degree. You can take what you like and modify or dump things you don’t. You can work with your coach to craft an approach that fits you.
You’re in charge of your life, and the final decisions always rest with you.
You’re the one who’s going to be taking the actions, and you’re the one who’s going to be living with the consequences.
What if you meet a specialist coach who seems perfect for you, but you don’t fit her specialty?
You hear a wonderful coach give a talk, and you think, “That’s the coach for me.” But she specializes in helping stay-at-home moms make a bit of side income online, and you’re a male CEO of a small business.
My suggestion? Jump on the opportunity to work with her, even if you don’t seem to fit her specialty.
Finding the right person is the most important thing in coaching. And specialties are often more about marketing than anything else. A talented coach can work with almost anyone on almost anything, as long as that coach isn’t solely providing expert advice. So if you find a coach you like whose specialty isn’t a good fit for you, please don’t hesitate to ask her if she’d work with you, anyway.
She’ll likely agree. The request is flattering to her, in any case, so you’re likely to have an enjoyable conversation with her, whatever answer she gives.
How does the coach approach her niche?
Specialists have different approaches to their specialties, so it’s not enough to just find a dating coach if you want help with dating. You’d want to find a dating coach who has a philosophy about dating that fits yours and an approach that’s a good fit for your personality and style.
Some dating coaches, for example, focus on improving their clients to make them appealing to a wider range of potential partners. Others focus on helping their clients understand and embrace who they are and find potential partners who are just wacky enough in just the right way to be a good fit.
You may want to take a look at an extensive list of coaching niches.