This year, as always, the advent of the holiday season sends folks into a state of terminal angst. Some, in fact, feel impelled to turn to their life coaches.
I’d always thought coaches were just for sports, but today there are executive coaches, sexuality coaches, Twitter coaches and, in Hollywood, acting, singing and career coaches. For those in greater need, there are life coaches, who dispense wisdom (at a price) on the full range of human experience.
I’ve encountered several life coaches in Hollywood lately, and, while telling others how to live, they themselves seem to lead totally messed-up lives. The same goes for the Twitter coaches who are increasingly popular — everyone in show business seems in need of a guide to the mysteries of the social (or anti-social) media. I found myself chatting with one such specialist who, even as we spoke, was simultaneously navigating two Twitter feeds, three group text message accounts plus Foursquare, Instagram, GroupMe and every other tentacle of the social universe.
Despite this hyperactivity, I felt she was nonetheless suffering from symptoms of FOMO — the fear of missing out.
Most children of Hollywood denizens are steeped in coach-dom. None would dream of applying to college (or even to kindergarten) without an interview or admissions coach.
One prominent surgeon, Dr. Atul Gawande, recently recommended the precept of coaching in medicine but warned in his article in the New Yorker, “Coaches are not your boss … but they can be bossy.” He said he’d retained a surgery coach, not because he felt he was losing his skills but because “I’d stopped getting better.”
Executive coaches are becoming more ubiquitous because so many major corporations are undergoing changes in corporate culture, observes Dr. Jane Saltonstall, a top coach. “CEOs and their top executives have to learn how to listen,” she says.
Camille Paglia, an academic, qualifies as a sexuality coach who is dedicated to helping women overcome society’s pervasive “bourgeois propriety.” While advocating greater freedom, she nonetheless critiques Lady Gaga, whose “compulsive overkill … represents a high-concept fabrication without an ounce of genuine eroticism.” True eroticism, apparently, requires some coaching.
In the world of pop culture, performers like Lady Gaga are always walking a fine line between subtlety and “overkill.” I can summon up the names of several prominent personalities who might benefit from some canny coaching.
Simon Cowell needs a relationship coach to fend off his quarrelsome colleagues (“Cowell doesn’t have enemies, just friends who hate him,” observed Nigel Lythgoe). Tim Tebow, star quarterback of the Denver Broncos, needs a religion coach so he can get through an entire game without stopping for group prayer. Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher need a tabloids coach — anyone who gets more mentions in the tabs than a Kardashian must turn for help.
Daniel Craig could use a cowboy coach — the Old West of the John Wayne era was clearly discomfiting for him in the summer turkey “Cowboys and Aliens.” Tobey Maguire might consider a poker coach to keep him out of games with unsavory characters (one such illegal game cost him $80,000 to settle a lawsuit). Ricky Gervais might hire an insults coach for his next Golden Globes appearance — last year’s material seemed like Don Rickles discards.
Baz Luhrmann would do well to consider a narrative and structure coach to help him complete “The Great Gatsby” (now shooting in Australia); none of the previous “Gatsby” adaptations could discover anything resembling a plot. James Murdoch surely could use a corporate hacking coach — at least one who would let him know what’s going on in his own company.
Then there’s Herman Cain. … No, forget that one.
For those of you who are reluctant to pay for a life coach, or any other kind of native guide, keep one thing in mind: There are always New Year’s resolutions to fall back on.
They’re cheaper, and just as comforting.