On "Helping People”
I didn’t get into coaching to “help people.” But I’ve come around.
Confession: I didn't originally get into philosophical life coaching to "help people."
Why I got into coaching
Instead, I thought that offering paid conversations under the banner of "coaching" would simply provide a way to make my interests overlap with other people's interests.
My interests being: talking about philosophy, earning money.
Clients' interests being: getting listened to, tackling their various problems and crises, perhaps "venting," feeling smart, achieving progress or movement in life somehow.
In fact, I thought it was painfully cheesy to hear basically every other life coach go on and on about just wanting to "help people." I've never had an urge to "help" simpliciter.
Instead, my entry into coaching was an ego-driven decision, and I thought other coaches' decisions were ego-driven too (just in a surreptitious or even delusional way, compared to me).
Now that I've spent a good many hours actually speaking to clients, my feelings have totally changed.
It is a staggering privilege to be invited to get to know someone individually and hear them out.
It is a tremendous responsibility to hold up a light so they can better consider their own past, present, and future.
When I think of how busy people set aside time and money specifically to speak with me, I become flooded with unvarnished gratitude and pride.
The particularity of beneficence
I am not the right person to play the coach role for everyone. But, when I am the right fit, I sincerely want to undertake the coaching work, which is really more like a coaching relationship, which is made manifest through the conversational form of coaching.
I still don't have a simple, lofty desire to "help others" per se. But, when I consider this particular way in which I am particularly well-positioned to "help" a small number of particular others, I feel very motivated indeed.
Beneficence is not a natural resource that you can muster at will and spread around rationally. Instead, it's the happy confluence of human ability and need. I am pleased to be living here, at least for now.
Pamela J. Hobart - Philosophical Life Coaching Newsletter
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