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The Dirty Little Secret About Life Coaches


Tony Robbins, Martha Beck, Brooke Castillo, Joe Vitale, Steve Pavlina, Jenny Blake, Pamela Slim and thousands more.

We call ourselves life coaches, executive coaches, peak performance coaches, business coaches, creative catalysts, and relationship coaches.

You see our Facebook posts that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside (or give you a kick you in the ass). You read our blogs or books, listen to us on podcasts, and watch us on television or web interviews.

You might think to yourself, “Wow! What an amazing life she has! He has his life together so well! Look at how happy she looks!”

Here’s our dirty little secret though…

We’re all fucked up.

We fail all the time. We lie sometimes. We occasionally overeat and overdrink. We cry. And then we cry some more.

Sometimes we are mean. Sometimes we get jealous. Sometimes we are selfish. Sometimes we lose our temper.

We swear. We fart. We poop. We burp.

Sometimes we feel stuck. Sometimes we feel hopeless. Sometimes we question whether running this business is worth all the stress and uncertainty. And sometimes we even get depressed.

You should see what goes on in our private Facebook groups. An outsider might say, how is this crazy person going to help me make more money or fix my relationship?

But the fact of the matter is we do. Otherwise no one would pay us.

No, life coaches aren’t superhuman. But they are extremely effective at what they do. Here are some of the reasons why.


1. We’re not afraid to ask for help

The difference I see between my coach friends and non-coach friends is that we are not afraid to ask for help.

Sometimes things overwhelm me and I send a stream of consciousness ranting email to several of my coach friends. Sometimes I call them on the phone. Or sometimes I post in one of our private Facebook groups.

My coach friends reach out to me all the time. We trade time on the phone together. We help each other on our product launches. We proofread important emails for each other.

And when we reach out we have no shame in “not being able to do this all on our own.”

Because we realize that it’s actually much stronger, wiser, and healthier to ask for help than to try and navigate this world all on our own.


2. We know our weaknesses and shadow traits

If someone calls themself a “guru” or claims to have “the secret to a perfect life” than run for the hills. They are lying to you.

We all have weaknesses and shadow traits.

I drink more than I should. Then I overeat when I drink. I’m poor at implementation and follow through. Sometimes I’m selfish. And I regularly waste too much time on the Internet.

But at least I know it and I’m working on it with the help of other people, systems, and programs.

We’re constantly gaining more and more self awareness whether it’s by being coached ourselves, taking a personality test, attending a workshop, or reading the latest book on psychology, willpower, or performance.

So ya, we’re messed up. But at least we know how and we’re working on it.

And most importantly, we accept it.


3. We have a huge toolbox of questions, tools, and exercises to help you get unstuck

If I was in a mentoring relationship with you, I would tell you what to do with your life based off of my experiences.

But when I’m in a coaching relationship with you, I create a safe space to work through your biggest challenges through the process of asking the right questions. And I have a lot.

  • What would your best self do in this situation?
  • What’s preventing you from __________?
  • Who would you be if you didn’t care about the opinions of others?
  • What do you need more of?
  • What do you need less of?
  • What sucks right now?
  • Who first gave you that message?
  • What would love ask you to do right now?
  • How is that story serving you?

A good coach doesn’t tell you what to do. They simply ask the right questions to help you to tap into your inner greatness. We are experts at the process of changing behavior, which is way more valuable than giving advice.

And once our call wraps up, we will be on the phone the next week to make sure you did what you said you were going to do.


4. We are not your friend

We may be friendly, but we are not your friend. At least during our calls together.

We demand the best from you. We hold you accountable and challenge you every week to do more than you think you can do.

We make you feel uncomfortable. Sometimes we make you cry. Sometimes you might even hate us a little.

But for an hour at a time we put every ounce of our being into holding space for you, challenging your limiting beliefs, and pushing you to be your best self.

And who do you have in your life right now that does that for you?


5. We’ve gone through a lot

Most of us are coaches because life bitch slapped us somewhere along the way and took our life off of autopilot. Or we suffered great trauma and learned how to cope with it and now we want to share that gift with you.

I was overweight when I was young and got teased because of my weight.

I had extreme social anxiety, to the point of not being able to even talk to a woman.

I grew up with a great deal of fear, shame, and guilt from my super strict religious upbringing.

And in the course of one year, I lost my mom, I lost my corporate job, I lost my apartment, I lost all of my material possessions, I lost my girlfriend, and I lost much of my identity. Some of these were stripped away from me, some of them were a conscious choice on my part. But the fact of the matter is, I went through huge loss after huge loss.

I know many coaches who have suffered sexual trauma. Others left abusive relationships. Others beat eating disorders.

But we learned how to deal with the hurt, the pain, and the loss. We learned how to succeed despite our shortcomings. And we learned how to live in gratitude, contentment and happiness despite our life circumstances.

And why would we ever want to hide that gift from you?


Yes, every life coach that I know is messed up. We are flawed, we have issues, and sometimes we are ugly. Do you know why?

It’s because we are human.

Just. Like. You.

  • Conni Biesalski

    Awesome post, Mister! Love your directness and openness, and the fucks and shits and especially the farts. Well done 😛

    • Mike Hrostoski

      I don’t know how someone who likes farts couldn’t love eating meat. I think you’re missing out.

  • Amy Pearson

    Hell yes. Stop waiting til your “shit is together”– it never will be. Love this Mike! Sharing this on my wall.

    • Mike Hrostoski

      Says the queen of radical authenticity. Thanks!

  • Ellen Ercolini

    FUCK YES. This is so spot on, true, and real. Thanks for sharing your (our!) story with the world.

    • Mike Hrostoski


  • Jonathan Mead

    You mean I can still help people even if I’m not perfect and am fucked up too?

    Imagine what the world would be like if we all waited to help others because we wanted to get everything figured out first. The world would be a pretty shitty place, I think.

    • Mike Hrostoski

      “Imagine what the world would be like if we all waited to help others because we wanted to get everything figured out first.”

      Such a great thought to ponder. Thanks Jonathan!

      • MonGuf

        Here is my pondering :
        Money aside – I think people who benefit most from life coaching are life coaches themselves – but they don’t want to know us that.They feed their egos and build their own selfesteem on weak people while tricking them into believing that they are getting help . As people who claim to experienced similar problem, they tell people what they wanna hear in a sophisticated and effective way. Is that enough to feel better ? Here is my idea- people who get caught into this whole life coaching thing – including me – are just people who long for a friend with a similar problem. If you are lonely , go into real world and find one- it will pay off and it will cost you less. And consider something very bizzare – maybe WE actually are the ones who life coach life coaches?

      • MonGuf

        Taking sentence out of the overall context of the statement is a typical sign of sophisticated manipulation , watch out people!

  • Amber J. Adams

    Great post Mike! Sometimes I think, “Who am I to want to help people?” But being able to put it all out there is the first step. Do you, boo!

    • Mike Hrostoski

      You know from first hand experience I’m far from perfect.

  • Betsy Fry

    This is so brutally honest and wonderfully said! I am going to share this with my world…

    • Mike Hrostoski

      Thanks Betsy!

  • Ashley Christian Folsom

    Yep, you described most of the coaches I interact with. Though not all out there are like this. Some do set themselves up as more than human. And I’m not a fan of anyone with a super structured approach that does not allow for individuality. The only thing you mentioned that I don’t do with my clients is hold them accountable for anything between sessions. “Homework” is optional. But if you chose not to do it that tells me as much as if you actually did it. I love coaching, as I know you do. And we just cannot help but go forth and try to make the world a better place…often one person at a time.

    Thanks for capturing this.

    Ashley Folsom

    • Mike Hrostoski

      True, sometimes they don’t have homework, but 90% of the time my clients do. It’s just my personal bias that we should push our clients to their own personal edge of what they think is possible.

      But sometimes my homework for a client who’s totally overworked and overstressed is: “Do something really fun every day this week.”

  • Taylor Jacobson

    killed it Mike.

  • Dan Reifenberger

    Love this post Mike. The biggest thing I learned from you and the crew at SXSW is just start helping people solve their problems. Rinse repeat.

  • Ania Nowicki

    I enjoyed this post so much! Thank you for having the courage and insight to write it. :)

  • Max Mendoza

    It’s incredible how hard is it is for many people to simply “ask for help”. Especially in the US the culture is so focused on “I” that most people don’t leverage the profound impact of “us” – a bit ironic isn’t it.

  • Erin Michaela Brandt

    I’m a stand for transparency. I intentionally share when I’m feeling vulnerable and need help… in a place my clients can see as well… not just to other coaches.

    And I talk about how, if you, as a beginning client, becoming an intermediate client, feel a little less respect for me for expressing my vulnerability… a little like… “Hmmmm… maybe she can’t help me as much b/c she’s not solid in every moment, either,” then that’s a GREAT time to check yourself.

    I am a stand for all of us just being human. And asking for what we need. And allowing everyone else to be human… with plenty of respect and even bigger doses of compassion!

  • Andrea Owen

    Love this, Mike. I am all of those…the only one I can say that I haven’t felt for years is hopeless. Well, at least since I got sober 😉
    Let’s see…I’ve been divorced, had an eating disorder, panic disorder, codependence, divorced parents, been in a past relationship with an addict, admitted I was an alcoholic, parent of a special needs kid and I fart too.

  • leah_DefytheBox

    Love this!! I’ve discovered that the more I fly my freak flag and show up as my imperfect self….loving myself all the way…the more I inspire people to do it too.

  • Pamela Hough Ravenwood

    I never trust anybody unless they are admittedly fucked up because upfront fucked up is a whole lot less scarier than unknown fucked up.

  • Renuka Prasad Gupta

    Loved the blog! I could relate to every word of it …. thank you for writing this

  • Paul Hess


  • Heather Rangel

    In gratitude to you for sharing. Thank you.

  • Vlad C. Antohi

    This is awesome

  • Sara

    Thank you! I love this! This sums up why I am in Life Coach training with Martha Beck. :)

  • Nailing Descartes To The Wall

    Brilliant article!! So freaking true.

  • Lucy

    this is the absolute best description I have seen of what us coaches are about and why we do it….thank you for putting into words what I have been trying to put my finger on! xx

  • MonGuf

    So basically your point is that life coaches ” dirty little secret ” is that they are human ? Wow .And we need a life coach – you -to tell us this great wisdom. Gosh, what happen to human race.And I also love the fact that most people who praise you for that in comment section are …. Live coaches!

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