About five years ago, the noted psychologist George Pransky and I explored the value of certification courses and other programs that train coaches to coach, teachers to teach, or psychologists to be better psychologists. The implicit claim made by those running these courses (and similar courses that exist in other fields) is that by introducing participants to truth-bearing and life-changing principles, they’ll be in a better position to help others. Plus, these courses contend that knowing these principles can assist participants in building their practices or businesses too.

I was not in favor of these courses then, and I am still not today. 

And here’s why:

They don’t work. Plain and simple. Each of us bears proficiencies or talents. And while a course may be fun, may provide a sense of belonging, or may offer a temporary distraction or excursion, if your talents do not include the ability to coach, teach, or counsel—please save your money. No course or course leader can enhance a prowess that you do not possess.

What’s more, those running these programs should take a hard look at themselves. Hinting at outcomes is a slippery slope that the ego relishes. If you’re a coach, teacher, or counselor, and you believe that a certain approach or realization worked for you (made you feel better or improved your life), great. But you have no proof whatsoever that your belief applies to others. In fact, the insecurity or lack that you’re attempting to placate by sharing your beliefs under the guise of a program is actually your sign not to.

In short, this article is a plea to those running these types of courses to consider something vital: What, exactly, are you promising? Can you promise anything more than your unwavering presence, love, and support?

And to be clear, I’m including myself in this inquiry. Can I, Garret, promise a client, organization, or audience the keys to success? Of course not.

Group leader, coach, teacher, or counselor. These are sacred callings, the most trusted of titles. Others reach out to you because nothing has worked. If, as a group leader, you are subtly ensuring a result or implying that you can inspire someone to live a better or more purposeful life, you are betraying this trust. If you are closed-mindedly suggesting that your approach is the answer or is better than another approach, you are betraying this trust. If you are showcasing your own charisma, wit, intellect, stories, or achievements, you are betraying this trust. If you are using a basic understanding of human frailties as a concealed and perpetual marketing tool, you are betraying this trust.

Every person who walks through your door is seeking the road home; the road to Peace, Happiness, and Love. That can’t be found in you, your beliefs, or a certificate. It can’t be found in thoughts, feelings, states of mind, camaraderie, principles, service, more clients, or in anything from the objective world.

If you and your course, or your work in general, are bolstering the very source of one’s suffering—a yearning for and devotion to objects—I ask you to reconsider.

Thank you for doing so,