reinventing advising and coaching for 2030

I just found out that one of my favorite authors, Clayton M Christensen, passed away in January.  He was best know for his work in Disruptive Innovation.  Here’s a quote that I found that sums up how I want to best live my life:

“I’ve concluded that the metric by which God will assess my life isn’t dollars but the individual people whose lives I’ve touched. Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved, worry about the individuals you have helped become better people.” – Clayton M Christensen

The coronavirus is disrupting higher education.  Every day, I’m reading articles (mostly gloom and doom) regarding budget cutbacks, furloughs, and layoffs that address the demise of higher education in the United States.

However, there’s very little written about the students – and how college helps them figure out what they should (or could) do in life.  Over the past three years, we asked students what they want most from their college experience in their first semester of college.  70% share that they want help figuring out what they want to do in life – or some form of that response.  If we lose our advisors and coaches, where will that help come from?

Answer: Life Design Catalyst Facilitators, otherwise know as “THE Catalyst.”  Who is a Life Design Catalyst Facilitator, you might ask?  Read on…

Over the next decade, as students and parents question the value of a college degree, advisors and coaches focused strictly on degree/course planning and/or college success will become obsolete. Technology is fast replacing the need for “people” to go over their course schedules for the semester, as well as develop the academic skills to be successful in college. What will replace advisors and coaches over the next ten years? The Life Design Catalyst Facilitator, otherwise known as “THE Catalyst.”

Life Design Catalyst Facilitators will assist students (traditional, non-traditional, transfer, and returning adults) with the process of Transitions, Transformation, and Transcendence. They will use introspective tools to empower students to create ambitious academic, career, and life plans that lead to success in school and in life. Facilitators will show students how they can connect their gifts, talents, skills, and abilities to potential jobs, as well as create entrepreneurial endeavors. Facilitators will need to utilize a variety of skills in working with students because every student is different – different backgrounds, different stages in life, and different wants and needs. Facilitators will need to employ a variety of strategies to help them navigate their journey in life. A “one size fits all” mindset will not work with students today.

So, who is a Life Design Catalyst Facilitator? It is an individual who:

  • Helps students make something happen, helps make things easier, helps find answers to problems, and/or helps brainstorm solutions for success through deep listening and open, honest bi-directional conversations.
  • Serves as a dynamic ally, realizing that both parties are creating a shared experience in life’s journey in designing lives that matter.
  • Helps them resolve their internal and external struggles, then inspires them to create an aspirational identity that positively shifts their perspectives about themselves.
  • Uses powerful questions, introspective tools, and curated information, to help students design meaningful lives and aspiring futures.
  • Serves many different roles, sometimes within the same exchange – as an advisor, coach, mentor, facilitator, guide, teacher, counselor, collaborator, knowledge expert, presenter, listener, supporter, inspirer, and maybe even a friend.

The Life Design Catalyst Facilitator must work from the heart, where the most useful tool in the toolbox is love – love for the work and love for the students. To be most effective, the Life Design Catalyst Facilitator must be passionate about the transformation and transcendence of students in transition in order to help them improve the way they see themselves and have hope for a better future.

A Life Design Catalyst Facilitator:

  • Assists others in exploring one’s purpose in life and creates a vision for the future.
  • Encourages and supports personal growth and development.
  • Focuses on instilling effective, lasting change and positive behaviors.
  • Serves as a sounding board to listen and to give honest feedback.
  • Acts as an accountability partner, providing both empathy and tough love when needed.
  • Shares knowledge and advice when applicable.
  • Is a difference maker who desires to make an impact on the lives of others.
  • Inspires change!

A Life Design Catalyst Facilitator empowers students to:

  • Have a higher level of self-awareness.
  • Live life with purpose and meaning.
  • Set smarter and more relevant goals.
  • Bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
  • Increase self-confidence.
  • Identify more opportunities for meaningful work.
  • Implement more desirable habits.
  • Create, sustain, and improve relationships.
  • Achieve higher levels of success in careers and in life.
  • Take more personal responsibility for actions and decisions.
  • Remove obstacles and minimize limiting beliefs.
  • Overcome low confidence.
  • Self-generate strategies and solutions to problems.
  • Be clear about how to live a fulfilling life.

The Facilitator provides students the opportunity to take control of their lives and see adversity, obstacles, and problems as opportunities for growth, not as a hindrance.

The favorite self-coaching question Facilitators uses as a guide is : “Is the action I’m about to take (or the decision I’m about to make) moving me forward into growth (+1) or backward into safety (-1)?”

Think of a world where advisors and coaches in higher education are trained on using introspective tools and powerful questions that empower students to create ambitious academic, career, and life plans that lead happy, healthy, and successful lives in school AND in life!

Wanna join me on this adventure?  Send me a note at!

2 thoughts on “reinventing advising and coaching for 2030

  1. Thanks, Bill. Glad to see you’re connecting our work with the impact the pandemic is having on higher education. As colleges move fully remote for fall 2020, the need for students (and ourselves!) to engage in activities that help them find meaning and purpose is more important than ever! Cheers from the west coast! ~Julie Collier

    • Thanks for the great message, Julie! I agree with you 100% – that we ALL need to find meaning and purpose in what we do. And you know that I’m on a mission to make that happen! More to come soon, my friend!

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