Thursday, April 28, 2005

I have underestimated the reach of the Internet. In response to my most recent post, I heard from a number of "life coaches" offering a free hour-long session to prove to me they actually provide a real service and aren't just doing the same thing we do, fooling clients into believing they have some real expertise and using fear and manipulation to extort excessive hourly fees.

I told Anonymous Wife about this, and she encouraged me to take one of these "life coaches" up on his offer, because she's tired of marriage counseling sessions ending in an empty promise to spend more time at home as I rush back to the office in order to avoid the painful car ride home where we have nothing to talk about except how we hope the babysitter isn't stealing any jewelry.

So this afternoon, in exchange for the promise that she would stop calling me at work and pretending the kitchen is on fire so I come home to see her, I visited one of the "life coaches" and had an hour-long session. What a waste of my (very expensive) time. Although it gave me an entirely new sense for what people do after they realize they can't function in the high-pressure world of corporate law. The irony is that these people, claiming they can help people like me manage my life and deal with the stress and figure out how to reach my goals are the people who couldn't hack it themselves. They couldn't function at all, and so instead they're going to tell me how I can function better. They couldn't cut it, so they're going to try and grab a share of the people who could. They're leeching off people more talented than they are. It's sickening, in a lot of ways.

So I walked into his office (which was smaller than my bathroom at home), and he asked me to make a list of what I want in life, in terms of career, family, and personal satisfaction. Here were my lists:

1. Find more associates to buy into the pyramid scheme and help me afford a new pool
2. Figure out new ways to bill clients for work they shouldn't really have to pay for
3. Fire more people who are just like you and can't hack it

1. Effectively substitute time and energy with enough conspicuous consumption to make Anonymous Wife forget how little I care
2. Send Anonymous Son to military school
3. Have an affair with your wife, Mrs. Life Coach

Personal Satisfaction:
1. Buy a boat
2. Find a technicality in the law to enable me to force you to shut down your useless life coaching practice

Mr. Life Coach was not amused. But, in all seriousness, how is this an industry? How shallow does someone have to be for this to be an effective method of life change? The sad thing about too many people at the firm is that this actually does something for them. This actually works. Their degree of introspection, the lack of time they spend thinking about their lives and the people they are, the lack of depth which they can access in their heads is so startlingly small that this is enough to make a difference. This is useful to them because it's the only way to get them to stop and think about what they're doing and who they've become.

For all of my weaknesses, and I know there are many... at least I know there are many. I look in the mirror and I know this isn't who I thought I would become, and that this isn't the life that I should be leading. I know I'm a bad father and a worse husband, and that at some point along the way I lost my integrity. I think it's very hard to work at a place like this and have integrity. The pressure to bill hours is too high. The pressure to cover up mistakes, to lie to clients, to create busy-work simply to enable more hours to be billed, the need to cut corners in order to maintain some semblance of control. But at least I know this. And I cling to the hope that this somehow makes me better than the people who don't. That somehow this means I would never take that final step, that one last step toward complete inhumanity. There's a check in the system. I know when I'm over the line. I do it anyway, but I know. On the other hand, maybe that makes me worse. But in either case, I don't need a life coach to tell me. And it's the ones who do need a life coach, for whom the life coach is really adding value, that I'm most frightened of. Because they'll do anything to get ahead, and won't even know just how evil they are.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?