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Coaching: An under-appreciated strategy among effective altruists

Just a little update after coaching for a year, with a maximum of 3 clients a week (about 80h in the whole year).

My clients report benefits to themselves,  the time I spend coaching is usually a pleasure for me, and everyone likes the feeling that the money is going to effective charities. I don't think I've been stealing too much work from professional coaches because the majority of the people I have worked with have signed a promise to donate when they are better off/in a different legal situation, so they wouldn't have been able to pay someone now (or perhaps even to qualify for subsidies). And for those who have made donations already, the sum of that is greater than what I paid to be listed on a coaching site, so it is cost-effective if we don't take into account my own time.

But as an EA, I think it makes sense to take into account my own time, in which case it's not totally clear that this is the most effective thing I could do. I'll be working with a coach who specializes on academics drawn to industry for a few weeks to think through alternative "business" plans, but will probably continue coaching just as I do now for another 6 months.

Coaching: An under-appreciated strategy among effective altruists

Thank you! Happy to have a chat if interested - my email is on my site ;)

What are the effects of considering that (human) morality emerges from evolutionary and other functional pressures?

To get things started, I imagine one non-human perspective is that represented by "big history", where "good" is more complex, and bad results from failures to maintain or increase complexity 

Coaching: An under-appreciated strategy among effective altruists

If you are trying to train yourself to have an intuition on the sizes, you can use visualization tools, and there are two main ones at present:

  • this visualization tool for group differences. The tool is based on Cohen's d, and since Hedges' g is just Cohen's d with a sample size correction, the tool will help you grasp to what extent two groups overlap/differ.
  • this visualization tool for association between two variables. This tool is based on Pearson's r correlations, but you can conceptually use it to develop intuitions for other tools measuring association (like Spearman rho, R = R-squared, or eta-squared -- let me know if you'd like me to elaborate on this!)

If you want someone else to  have an intuitive grasp of the size of an effect you're discussing, you can refer to lists of benchmarks. My height example comes from Cohen (1988's Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences), but more modern examples can be found here and here.

Coaching: An under-appreciated strategy among effective altruists

In your case, a run-of-the-mill productivity coach, who focuses on good habits, may not be ideal: It would take a lot of effort for small gains (due to diminishing returns). 

But you could try coaches who aim to help you in mid- and long-term planning and strategies, and/or with clarifying values and thought patterns that influence those larger decisions. To give you two examples from within the EA/rationalist community (more names here), Lynette Bye has written about how you can prioritize projects on her blog and Pamela J Hobart introduces herself as a "philosophical life coach who helps intellectuals to clarify their thinking and values". Depending on your line of work, consider looking into consultants to get radically different viewpoints on longer term planning because being extremely efficient in the small scale of hours or days won't matter if you're working towards the wrong goal (or the right one with the wrong strategy).

About your two last questions: Some people are happy to meander through existence to chance upon an interesting self-discovery. Based on your question, my guess is that you are not one of them, and therefore randomly meeting coaches will just feel like a frustrating waste of time. So if you're not sure what you'd gain from a given coach and/or you don't resonate with their public materials, this is a great way of discarding their names when doing your coach search!