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Last season, I embarked on a kayaking journey as a rookie, hoping to grow and develop my skills. Initially, I timidly paddled in a clunky, flat-top kayak I affectionately called my "baby boat." It was the kind you'd find at Walmart for kids. For the first two weeks, I stuck close to the shore, lacking confidence in my abilities.
In the past, I had been skeptical of groups, teams, and authority figures, often seeking safety in activities that reinforced my insecurities. Unfortunately, my experiences were misguided and had unintentional negative consequences for myself and my community.
However, my perspective shifted as I warmed up to the Sprint Team and our coach. They were genuinely good people with positive intentions, not another cult. With newfound confidence, I upgraded to a racing kayak, eager to challenge myself.
Coach Rob provided the perfect balance of support and encouragement. I pushed myself to the limit through countless races, victories, and losses. Each practice session left me with a sense of fulfillment, discovering a kayaking enthusiast within myself that I had never known before. It filled me with hope, and I yearned for more moments of that joyous experience.
This year, things have changed.
Coach Rob left our club, leaving a void that has yet to be filled. While the team members remain good people, a team needs a competent coach to thrive. Enter Coach Riley, he barely meets the minimum requirement to Coach, but he's kind, likes to drive the rescue boat with one hand on his iPhone and an ear out for the ping of notifications and sometimes yells over the hum of the motor, "How ya doin'?" Unfortunately, we haven't engaged in drills, technique practice, stroke modifications, or time trials. As a result, my motivation to train has dwindled, and when I do show up, I'm overwhelmed with resentment.
I long for a coach who can identify my shortcomings, improve my strokes, and provide structured practices. Instead, our sessions lack direction, and the only gratification I receive is from tracking my laps on my Apple watch before leaving practice.
I don't intend to criticize Riley personally; I empathize with his situation. I've heard about his impressive racing career in his youth, acknowledging his skills surpass mine. However, coaching requires more than personal achievements. Catastrophic coaching is prevalent in the online business industry, and I'm grappling with addressing this issue without sounding abrasive. It's exhausting. Many coaches launch their coaching practices based solely on their life experiences, often ignoring their layers of privilege and lacking proper training.
My own journey of unlearning harmful coaching practices began under the guidance of Dr. Janja Lalich, a renowned expert in coercion, undue influence, and cultic abuse. I met Janja during a recovery class. Just being present with the harmful truth, my hands shook, and oceans of sweat poured out of my armpits. Stunned and barely breathing, I listened as Janja spoke. In the beginning, I wasn't even sure why I was there, and now I know that was precisely why. I realized I needed to sit back and listen to be part of this conversation.
While Coach Rob and Coach Riley represent the spectrum of coaching abilities within an amateur sports team, the stakes are relatively low. I've invested only a few hundred dollars and a handful of weekly hours into this team. However, a vast range of qualifications and abilities exist in the online coaching world, making it challenging to discern genuine experts from the underqualified. I quickly realized I had embarked on a disappointing season with an inexperienced athlete-turned-coach who believed his medals were sufficient to lead a team and forgot he needed to figure out his leadership to guide others' improvement.
All coaches are responsible for improving by actively unlearning the conditioning perpetuating harmful practices.
I have dedicated significant time to learning and unlearning the manipulative tactics employed by online coaches and accepting my role in that dynamic.
After hours of learning and unlearning the underhanded tactics used by online coaches and taking responsibility for my part in that game, by showing up differently, I earned the trust of Janja and other leaders in the cult recovery. (not an easy feat) I am so honoured to be here.
Today, I have been given the privilege to address the community directly, shedding light on the prevalent issues that persist in online coaching. And to be asked to speak directly to the community about the rampant issues perpetrated in Online Coaching.
Please join the conversation:
RED FLAGS & RECOVERY IN AN UNREGULATED INDUSTRY
Brought to you by Kathleen Oh and Tarzan Kay, in partnership with the Lalich Center on Cults and Coercion.
A five-part educational series and discussion group designed to shed light on the prevalent unregulated practices in the coaching industry, with special guest teacher Janja Lalich, PhD
Mondays July 17, 24, 31 & August 7 & 14
1:00-2:30pm EDT/10:00-11:30am PDT
Price: $500 USD
Limited to 22 participants
Register here: https://lalichcenter.org/coaching-unveiled