For the longest time, I never really understood what coaching was outside of the context of sports. At some points, I equated it to mentorship; other times, it sounded like therapy, and other examples sounded a bit like a mash-up of both with a bit of “woo woo” sprinkled in.
My thinking was changed when I had the privilege of working with an incredible executive coach for twelve months as part of my professional development. Not only did I experience coaching first-hand, but I was inspired to later educate myself on coaching more formally through certification courses.
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” Coaching is forward-looking and focuses on goals.
Life coaches specialize in niches. A client chooses a coach based upon their experience, style, interpersonal dynamic fit, and how the coach’s credentials align to the focus area of their desired transformation. Some of the most common coaching areas are executive coaching, business coaching, wellness coaching, financial management coaching, spiritual coaching, and relationship coaching (i.e., marriage, divorce, family, parenting, etc.)
So, what is involved in coaching? Here are three essential elements to know:
- Forward-focused: Coaching is a transformative experience that focuses on where you are today and where you want to go. It is often mistakenly assumed to be counseling, or therapy, in disguise. To help clarify the focus of coaching versus therapy, here is an excerpt from an expert source for all things life coaching, TonyRobbins.com:
“The fundamentals of life coaching are what distinguishes it from therapy. Life coaches do not diagnose the people they work with, while therapists determine illnesses and pathologies so their patients can be clinically treated. Therapists analyze their client’s past as a tool for understanding present behaviors, whereas life coaches simply identify and describe current problematic behaviors so the client can work to modify them. In other words, therapists focus on “why” certain behavioral patterns occur, and coaches work on “how” to work toward a goal.”
- Client-driven: In any coaching engagement, the client has complete ownership of the journey to achieve their goal. The coach guides them through thought-provoking questions and other techniques to define their goal(s) and challenge their thinking, but the steps to take are generated and acted upon by the client. The coach will help the client navigate the change process by clarifying objectives, asking questions about the steps to be taken, and fostering focus, so distractions and roadblocks are minimized. Ultimately, the successful attainment of goals is that of the client and not the coach.
- Intensive commitment: A coaching program is an emotional, physical, and financial commitment that requires time for the client to navigate the process of goal achievement. Transformation does not occur after one hour-long session (typically). It occurs after weeks, months, and years of consistent, purposeful personal development work. The coach supports the client by challenging their self-limiting beliefs, offering feedback when the client strays from the path, and points them in the right direction when they struggle to do so for themselves.
There are many benefits of coaching. Some of which include:
- Gaining clarity around personal and professional goals and defining an action plan
- Breaking through limiting beliefs
- Identifying core values
- Improving personal and professional communications and interpersonal relationships
- Growing self-confidence and managing impostor syndrome
- Obtaining balance in life
- Achieving goals
Life coaching, regardless of niche, helps you maximize your potential and move towards a more fulfilling life. Finding the right coach, making the self-investment in the process, and honoring your progress and goal achievement make the coaching experience a transformative and incredibly rewarding one. I found this to be true for myself and encourage you to explore and ask yourself if coaching may be right for you.
All my best and more,
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