“You’re in your sixties. You were once a high-flyer (maybe still are). You’ve been at the sharp end and have achieved success. You’re able to create and sustain relationships, hold down jobs and earn promotion. You’ve travelled the world. You know how things are done and have obviously done them, so why do you need a coach?”

You wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve had this kind of conversation with professional men and women, in their forties and fifties, even their sixties. After years of succeeding without a coach or an ‘approach’, for some reason, they believe that they need one. Why?

These successful people have all the tools they need. They’ve proved they can do it, by the fact that they’ve done it. Why do they suddenly need to be ‘advised’ and undermined, by someone with less knowledge and experience, who’s probably achieved less and done less in their life? The answer, of course, is that they don’t.

They DON’T need advice, they don’t need to be told what to do. They don’t need hand-holding. They’re in the prime of life and if anyone should be a coach (without the need for a ‘certificate’) it’s them. Something’s clearly going on, what is it?

What’s going on is FEAR and most of the time, we’re way too afraid to admit it.

Fear is a system; a system that’s built-in, that’s born to all of us. When the system of fear is CLEAN it works normally. When the system of fear is CONTAMINATED, by negative experience, it causes us problems.

As we get older, the system of fear gets more and more contaminated. The more corrupted it is, the more confidence drops and doubt increases. We become less sure, less certain, less decisive and less driven. More worried about the consequences of making a mistake, more anxious about taking risks, more concerned about getting things wrong…

…and then along comes a coach or someone with an online ‘approach’ to help you with anxiety, confidence and getting it together. Someone who’s going to tell YOU, the seasoned, successful professional, how it’s done. Excuse me!? Really??!

As ridiculous as this is, it’s incredibly common. There are literally hundreds of coaches and approaches peddling the same ‘advice’ based ideas and the more they do it, the more we start to think we need them. 

The self-help industry has made it easy for anyone to buy a certificate. To ‘master’ an ‘approach’ in a matter of days. To go out into the world convinced they can do anything; that ‘anything is possible’. They know it because the certificate provider told them so and they wanted to believe it. Belief, of course, is all it takes to ‘make the dream real’…

Well, if it is, please book me a flight to Mars any time you’re ready and then bring back Ironman. Please give me the winning numbers for the Euro-millions jackpot. Go to a Bentley dealership and take away a car and get me a yacht harboured in Monaco – all on a a £20k a year salary. Do I need to go on?

Sorry to burst the insane ‘belief bubble’, with a big dose of reality but ‘anything’ ISN’T possible, no matter how much you want to believe it. There are very few who will tell you this. Either they can’t tell the difference between fact and fiction (dangerous) or they’d rather go along with you than tell you the truth and risk losing you as a client (even more dangerous).

Start saying what’s NEEDED and bring the REAL problem to the table i.e. issues with the system of fear and your potential new cash-cow is likely to disappear over the horizon.

It takes real courage for any of us to admit to ourselves that we’re experiencing fear. It takes even bigger bollocks to tell someone else and work through it to get the result you want i.e. clean fear that works normally, just like it did BEFORE problems developed.

Despite the reality of common problems, the americanised self-help, therapies, personal and professional development market is worth multi-BILLIONS and it’s rapidly growing. But why are more people than ever struggling with problems if these approaches work?

The fact is, advice based approaches promise a lot but do very little. They CAN NOT help you with internalised, contaminated fear no matter how well-intentioned. This is the basic premise of what you’re buying into:

If you do what I say and follow my advice then your problem will be solved.

If your problem isn’t solved it’s your fault. It’s because of you, not me or my approach. You got it wrong. You f***** up. You failed…

People don’t buy into this kind of stuff when they’re doing ok. They buy into it when they’re not doing ok, when they’re more vulnerable than normal and WANT to believe an approach will work. The industry prays and plays on this. 

On the ground, of course, advice based approaches do very little. Progress is slow and if achieved, it’s minor at best. Creating points of failure (it’s your fault – not mine), they ADD to self-doubt, blame and guilt; they erode confidence even more.

Sadly, if you enter the self-help/development circus in your late thirties/forties, like most people do, you won’t realise you’ve been conned until you reach your late fifties or even your sixties.

You’ll know at that point because you will have “tried everything” and found “nothing works”. You’ll also know, because, despite the fortunes you’ve spent and the hope, time and energy you’ve invested in making progress, you won’t have made any. 

The entire industry is not only flawed, it’s founded on a lie. Self-help and advice based approaches CAN NOT heal you in the way that’s needed when you have real problems. What they can do, inadvertently, is make you worse. 

My advice? Don’t buy advice. Don’t believe the ‘I’ve done it so can you’ nonsense. Don’t waste your energy, time or money. Save yourself the disappointment.

If you’re dead set on going ahead, then keep your expectations low. DON’T blame yourself or beat yourself up when you realise there’s nothing more to what you’ve bought than good intentions and a shiny wrapper.


Helen Wingstedt


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