ASK COLETTE: When Entitlement Stops Us in Our Tracks

Is a sense of entitlement getting in your way? Here, Zoomer guru Colette Baron-Reid on helping adult children take responsibility for their own lives.


Dear Colette,

My 35-year-old son wanted to go to a specialized coaching school to get training and certification to be a life coach.  After I footed the bill for it and he completed the entire course a full year ago, he still doesn’t have a coaching business that can pay his monthly expenses and I am still financially helping him!

It took me quite a while to accept this whole concept of him being a “coach” and now I’ve spent all of this money and it didn’t live up to its promise.  Should I contact the company directly about getting a refund or seeing if they will give my son additional resources for free?  I know you also have a coaching program, how do you handle it when a student follows all of the instructions and it doesn’t work for him? – Money for Nothing


Dear Money for Nothing,

Expectation, expectation, expectation…sorry, I just had to see it in writing more than once to get things started off on the right note.

Together, let’s pick this apart a bit and see what we find hidden in plain sight.  Then we can delve into the unrealized dream your son (and let’s be honest – you) had about his career as a successful life coach.

Your son wanted to be trained in methods he could use to help other people become the best versions of themselves.

You wanted to help him make it a reality.

Two great motivations are at work there.  Now, let’s look at the expectations.

Your son gained the education and training to pursue a calling he was interested in, or passionate about. Did he have the expectation that by going through the training, that the facilitator/mentor/coach would provide him with clients? Did he, or you, imagine the school would funnel potential clients to him?

Was it his or you expectation that learning the curriculum would automatically translate to clients knocking on his door?

You say in your question that “it didn’t live up to its promise.”  Was there specific language in the website, program description or contract that promised a full pipeline of clients would be provided for the students upon completion?  I haven’t seen it in my many years around the industry.  And I’m just thinking aloud here, but how many clients want to get guidance from a life coach who can’t make forward progress on his own behalf?

Of all the coaching programs I’ve seen, including my own, the mission of the school/business is to educate, not provide clients for coaches. I, like many of my colleagues, support the students within reason.

Just because the time and effort was spent learning the techniques does not mean the “build it and they will come” philosophy will manifest on its own.  Sorry to be so direct but there sounds like a sense of entitlement is at work here.  What we think we deserve is not the same as what we are entitled to. For the money you invested in your son’s future, you deserve to know he put in the time and effort and learned a valuable talent.  If he did, indeed, learn and can facilitate that knowledge, then the investment was well spent and you got what you deserved.

Feeling entitled is a whole different energy. Entitlement is cancerous and any of us at any time can lay prey to that place within where we may refuse to surrender to life’s experiences because our expectations are not met.

My last observation is if your son is the graduated student, why would you call the school and ask for a refund or more guidance about how to build his business? If he went to a university to become an investment banker and couldn’t find a job in his field do you go there and ask for the same things? Not a chance!

Who should be taking initiative to build your son’s business or seek out additional marketing support? Perhaps the answer (and solution) to your son’s growing business lies within him. As a matter of fact it’s not your place at all to do this.

In the many years I have been involved in coaching it still puzzles me how people expect to magically morph into a success overnight while doing very little to participate in their own rescue or business building.

You can encourage your son to take steps to learn how to market his new talents.  He needs to be persistent and consistent with his efforts, working smart and hard to engage with his new potential clients.  But I am sure he knows this already.

You’ve “footed the bill” now it’s time for you to step aside, encourage him and let him fly on his own.  Don’t call the school, don’t judge his decision to become a coach and if need be, give him a loving but firm kick into forward motion.


Colette Baron-Reid

The InVision Project
Founder, CEO

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