Life Coaching Demystified

What comes to mind when you think of a ‘life coach’?

For some people, when they hear the word, ‘coach’, they still think of a person in charge of an athletic team’s performance. The coach’s job is to motivate, inspire and instill confidence within the players, while making certain that the optimum skill levels and strategies for success are in place in order to WIN.

The job of a “life coach” is remarkably similar, but with a powerful twist. At the most basic level, what a coach does is work with the ‘What’, the ‘Who’ and the ‘How’ of whomever they are coaching – be it an athletic team, a person or a business.

In the above example of the athletic coach, he/she knows what the goal of the team is – namely to ‘win’. He/she helps each member of the team accomplish this by motivating and inspiring them (the who), and by making certain that their skill level is up to par to deliver on the play strategies they have developed (the how).

So, at the basic level, a life coach helps a person clarify and identify what they most want ,(their goals), discover and appreciate who they are, and design and develop strategies for how they will get what they want. The life coach does this by using skills such as: listening, clarifying, reflecting, mirroring, relating, intuiting, advising, developing, empowering, championing, strategizing and challenging. The life coach will ask the client questions, listen deeply, reflect back what is heard and sometimes ‘not heard’, expand on what the client is saying and then ask further questions to provoke even deeper thinking and feeling.

The twist with life coaching, and what makes it so powerful and life-changing, is that usually once a client begins to discover more about who they really are (beyond the roles they play in their life), what they want tends to change, and be in better alignment with who they really are. This process impacts the strategies that are put into place to achieve what is wanted. The client will begin to experience greater meaning and purpose in their life, which translates into a more passionate, fulfilling and satisfying life.

What makes this different from “consulting” or “counseling” is the general purpose of each and the role the client plays. In “consulting”, the client is looking for direct answers to specific questions (generally with the ‘what’ and the ‘how’). The consultant’s job is to provide the client with the answers. In “counseling”, the client is looking for healing or strengthening in his or her life (the ‘who’) which generally has to do with issues or traumas from the past. The counselor’s job is to provide the framework and support for the healing of these specific psychological conditions (such as depression or addiction).

In “life coaching”, the client is seen as the person in charge, creative, resourceful and whole. He/she provides the answers – coaching simply offers the appropriate questioning, reflection and expansion to illicit what the client then discovers, clarifies and creates. The life coach integrates the what, how and who together in a process that helps the client propel forward in his/her life in a much faster and/or profound way than he/she could have done without the help of the life coach.

What comes to mind to Jack Canfield, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and author of, The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, when he thinks of a life coach?

“Number one, you can always get better. I have coaches that I work with regularly. I believe that every time I interact with those people, I learn something I didn’t know, and I’m forced to confront areas where I’m resisting or unconscious.” Jack Canfield

So, what comes to mind for you when you think of a ‘life coach’?

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