I don’t usually review books but this one is a little different. Coaching has become a popular subject worldwide and I see many people on Linked In and elsewhere offering coaching. Globalization and the world wide web help explain.
The author, Amir Karkouti, and I go back awhile. Amir attended high school with my youngest son, Pablo, and Amir and Pablo have been friends for around 25 years now. Both are in their mid thirties. Amir became a hypnotist, public speaker and coach. Pablo is a firefighter.
It also of interest to note that Pablo (from Brazil) and Amir (from Iran) had the commonality of being kids with a somewhat different background (foreigners/immigrants) in a pretty suburban and white community.
Amir, although he does not have a formal and traditional academic background, now has written 3 or 4 books and has become successful in his field.
I like Lessons from My Coach for a lot of reasons. Amir states it might change your life and indeed the book is full of suggestions on how to do things differently.
Before looking at some of the “revelations” or insights that Amir offers, I want to make clear my take on coaching and perhaps expose my biases and limitations.
I grew up the son of a Baptist minister/missionary and came of age in the 60’s in Berkeley and Brazil. something of a combustible mix. When I was younger, coaching was pretty much restricted to sports. We had a coach on the basketball team, a football coach and other sports coaches with some often doing double duty. Today’s coaches go well beyond sports and have become “life” coaches. I think this reflects the decline and transformation of traditional institutions such as the family, the traditional role of the father, the pastor, the big brother, the teacher, the professor, the doctor, etc. Traditional nuclear families are already a minority in California and the trend continues throughout the country. Moreover, individuation and specialization allow for definition of new modes of interaction and people seek counsel and value in alternatives such as a coach. In the absence of Jesus coaching Peter to walk on water, we have myriad of gurus teaching people a gospel which, I think, borrows unconsciously and maybe unknowingly from the great traditions of the New Testament.
Amir wants his clients to gain insights (Chapter 1) and recognize their own souls and he suggests that to do this one must slow down (Chapter 2). We are too busy to take note of what really is going on and we cannot connect with our innermost self and our most basic wants and needs. In the religious tradition, this involved prayer and meditation and in Christianity the desire and effort to follow Christ. In Chapter 3, “Know Less”, Amir makes a confession: He does not know as much as his clients. In so doing he seeks to transform a weakness into strength. By being humble, one is strong. Chapter 5 (Go Full Out) is commitment which to me is similar to conversion. You have to want to change and turn over a new page. Once you are converted, make sure you can do what you say you are going to do and start with your own example as in Chapter 6 (Go There First). When you have converted yourself, then you deal only with Kings and Queens (Chapter 7). The parallel here, of course, is that Kings and Queens rule with divine authority and the extraordinary coach must deal with extraordinary individuals. Long term, the objective is to help create the community of saints where all perform according to their full God given potential. As you grow and perform, you tell a powerful story (Chapter 8) and your testimony enhances your own performance and sets a positive example. Your success, the coach’s success and the client’s success leads to dreaming bigger dreams (Chapter 9). Just as the Apostle Paul divinely saw that by opening and transforming the Judaic tradition, Christianity would be universal rather than restricted. Amir’s dream is to gather all the “right” clients (Chapter 10) so that you have what used to be called the “elect”. Once you have these, Chapter 11 states that you build the relationship and one way of doing this is by getting a Coach. In the Christian tradition, the same idea is to get closer to Jesus. Amir states that it is comical that so many coaches fail to use coaches. Christian leaders similarly lament how we constantly fall away from Jesus and emphasize that we need to keep going back to the fount. I suppose Chapter 13 (There are No Rules) seeks to avoid the doctrinal arguments that probably exist in the coaching community just as we have denominations in the Church. While there are no fixed rules to coaching, Amir does say that agreements (Chapter 14) are fundamental. Chapters 15 through 19 deal essentially with “evangelization” or spreading the good news. Get people on board but don’t do their work. Let them find their own “breakthroughs”. Be bold and remember that money should be a consequence not an objective. Value yourself (as a coach) as you would value a brain surgeon. By doing so, certain people (the right ones) will recognize that you have worth and will want to be your follower or disciple. Use prayer and silence(Chapter 21) and remember that life is infinite (Chapter 23) so we all head out on our material and spiritual journey to eternity.
Lessons from My Coach brings out valuable teaching but it does not really address moral dilemmas that we all face. Life, living, coaching, religion are all fraught with contradictions. The unresolved task for the individual, for the pastor, for the coach, for the executive is how do we find our moral compass and how do we deal with situations that are nuanced and essentially unresolvable. Examples abound and we need only witness our foreign policy, immigration policy, the war between Israelis and Palestinians, the fights between Sunni and Shia between the particular and the supposedly universal. Certainly, Amir approaches these questions only peripherally and I suppose that is enough since these same questions have been handed down since humanity discovered its conscious and consciousness.