That’s what I asked when I first heard the term 20 years ago. Actually, if I’m being honest, the actual question I posed was, “What the hell kind of bullshit is life coaching?”
To me, a coach was a whistle-blowing gym teacher with too much swagger to fill his or her chronically ill-fitting shorts, yelling at me for getting nailed in the face with a dodge ball.
And what sort of person could be so audacious as to believe they could coach someone else on their life? It all left a bad taste in my mouth.
Why Would Anyone Want to Be a Life Coach?
I’ve been through lot of therapy since that sweeping judgment 20 years ago. I know the power of support through communication. And though life coaching is NOT therapy, I’ve given it a lot more thought. I’ve also given it a lot more time and money – both in becoming a life coach, as well as having one. And these experiences have, as you might expect, changed my perspective. What I see now is the tremendous value of life coaching.
I still think it’s a stupid name. Life coach. I cringe a little every time I say, “I’m a life coach.” But that’s mostly because what a life coach does is still widely misunderstood – as evidenced by how easily the perception of a life coach is lampooned in sitcoms and articles.
So Here’s How Life Coaching Works
I’m gonna simplify it for you.
You don’t seek out a life coach to mend your marriage or grapple with your parental issues. You seek out a coach because your life has a hiccup. Some tangible part of your life has wavered off course. So you enlist the help of a life coach.
Your coach has questions. You have answers. But in reality, your coach has been trained to ask the right questions that allow you to see that you don’t merely have answers. You have THE answers. That you intrinsically know what’s caused the hiccup in your life. And that, together with your coach, you can work with it, alleviate it and eventually get rid of it.
A Life Coach Does Not Tell You How to Live Your Life
Not one who has had proper training, at least.
S/he is not a therapist or a mentor or a consultant. Your life coach does not set out to “fix” you because s’he doesn’t view you as broken. S/he’s your equal and is there to support you on your quest. This could be a desire to lose weight, find more creativity, make more money, spend more time with your family/friend/four-leggeds, get more exercise or any number of things that will help you feel better about yourself and your life.
Ultimately, Your Life Coach Is Your Support System
S/he asks the important questions that encourage you to understand that you know what needs to be done. And then the two of you formulate a plan and set some goals.
Your coach is the person to whom you’re accountable when you don’t quite meet those goals and who will help you get back on track in an encouraging and supportive way that may or may not involve chocolate. S/he’s also the person with whom you celebrate your successes. And there will be many.
So, yeah. Life coaching isn’t going to help you with your childhood issues or family dysfunctions. It isn’t going to give you clearcut answers and solutions to the huge issues in your life.
But it’s straightforward, uncomplicated and effective. What else can you say that about anymore?