I had a narrow escape yesterday from an organisation called The Coaching Academy. My Friend from the North invited me, because there was a bring-a-friend offer; she is a very good pal and I thought, 'Why not?'.
However, within five minutes the combination of being patronised by the facilitator and her cynicism started to make my heart sink. I looked at the literature and could see that this course wasn't validated by any official body; there were no names of companies that the speakers had worked for (just vague terms like '... in the corporate world'). There was a lot of stuff about NLP (that's neuro-linguistic programming to you and me), and a vague quotation from The Observer that on close inspection was not an endorsement, but a description of the size of the organisation (what came next, I wondered; 'Don't touch this with a barge pole?')
I imagined indoctrination, and I imagined a whole load of people who had been asked to leave their companies for various reasons setting up a coaching programme for other people who had been asked to leave their jobs to learn to coach other people who had been asked to leave their jobs (for a fee).
We laughed at the idea of people liking to talk about themselves. We sat in front of coloured banners displaying tailor-made coaching programmes; we had booklets and were encouraged to write down what we wanted to get out of the programme.
All I want at the moment is an end to the famine in Africa, and I couldn't see myself getting that out of the course. I love my friend dearly but I just couldn't do it. As we rose from our seats to network, I slipped out into the freedom of Regent Street and came home to an unexpected free day.
I bought four books from the British Heart Foundation shop and sat in the sun reading one of them. I even started to write a new song. I fretted in empathy with Offsprog Two who is having a terrible time thinking about leaving her close friend network to go to University (unbearable!).
I forgot to send money to the Disasters Emergency Committee, but I am finishing this posting to do that Right Now.