“What exactly is a life coach, and why would I need one?” …A question I hear quite regularly in my business and one that always catches me by surprise, even though I know it shouldn’t!
Long, long ago…I remember back to my days of being a civil engineer (longer ago than I care to mention) when friends would come up to me and ask if I could help fix their car.
“But I haven’t the first clue about cars’ engines,” I would protest, only to be confronted with a quizzical look…
“But you’re an engineer, aren’t you?”
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When you get really close to a subject, it’s easy to forget how little other people know about something that you’ve learned to take for granted.
I’m sure you know the feeling.
In fact, I have to keep slapping myself as a reminder that it was just a few short years ago that I first asked that very same question:
“What is life coaching – and what does a life coach do?”
From my experience, most uninitiated people have preconceived notions about life coaching that are derived from their understanding of disciplines that are more well known. Rabbiting on about what a life coach is often does little to dispel these notions.
When introducing people to the unquestionable benefits of having a personal life coach, I find it useful to start by explaining what life coaching is not and gently expanding from there.
Life coaching is not counseling.
First and foremost, life coaching is not a form of counseling or therapy.
Life Coaches aren’t there to diagnose how past traumas may have contributed to your current condition, help fix personal problems, heal emotional wounds, or slay past demons.
A life coach will encourage you to consider that you are where you are and what’s happened has happened – that your unique tapestry of life experiences, whether you consider these to be good, bad, or indifferent, is just that – a bunch of experiences.
Where you go from here does not have to be dictated by where you have come from if you don’t want it to.
With a life coach, you will come to appreciate that you are presented with choices every moment of every day. You can continue on the path you are on – and in all likelihood get similar results – or you can choose a different path and, with the right approach and tools, get the results you truly desire… often spectacular results!
A life coach will help you search within to appreciate your value rather than look outwards for affirmations of your worth.
A life coach will introduce you to what I call The Great Trap, help you see it for what it is, and show you simple but powerful ways to avoid it or extricate yourself.
The Great Trap is an unfortunate side effect of the survival instinct built into all of us. It manifests, ultimately, as a life that feels meaningless, like a never-ending treadmill or a pointless rat race. It’s caused by one’s inability to embrace change, which, in turn, comes from a fear of the consequences of change. That fear, in turn, is brought on by the belief that one has no control over change. And that belief comes from looking outwardly and not inwardly for strength and affirmation of value.
Life coaching is not consulting.
Secondly, a life coach is not a consultant.
A life coach will not run your life or business for you and will not even show you how to run your life or business. Instead, what the coach will do is help you liberate the untapped potential that lies dormant within you to run your life or business far more effectively.
Consultants are people who have skills, knowledge, and resources about specialized areas of business that they will deploy for a fee to assist individuals or organizations perform better.
Life coaches are skilled in helping individuals unlock their own capabilities and realize their potential so that they can live their lives according to their desires.
Life coaches are not perfect!
And, finally, life coaches are not – and don’t need to be – ‘life experts’ or perfect specimens of those who have mastered the complexity of life.
Someone I knew who had been persuaded to hire a life coach spent months looking for the right person for the job – and eventually gave up. Why? Because he was trying to find someone who didn’t exist – a coach displaying outward signs of living the kind of idyllic, utopian life that he thought he wanted for himself.
“All these so-called coaches that I contacted seem like pretty regular people to me,” he complained.
That’s the point.
Life coaches are not glamorous celebrities, public icons, or superheroes of some form! They are, by and large, ‘regular people’ like you and me. The difference is that they have a true passion for helping others be the best they can be, and – if they have come through a reputable training program – they will be adequately equipped with the tools, skills, and techniques to make that happen.
Life coaches are special people.
Make no mistake. Good life coaches are very special people. They live and breathe the ups, downs, personal revelations, setbacks, achievements, and breakthroughs of their clients. They offer a caring and supportive – yet challenging and inspiring – coaching environment that encourages their clients to flourish and prosper.
The good news.
Now here’s some good news. First, you don’t need to have some ‘problem’ before you approach a life coach.
If you have a niggling knee injury, you go to a doctor. If your washing machine doesn’t drain properly, you call a plumber. If you have subsidence problems with your house, you call a structural engineer. Finally, if someone sues you or your business, you find a good lawyer. These professions, like most, specialize in offering solutions to day-to-day problems.
The life coach, on the other hand, works best with ‘whole’ clients; people who have a desire to live to their true potential, who want to go beyond the normal, break out of boring routines, and experience a purposeful and exciting life; people who know that they are capable of so much more yet don’t know quite how to get there; people who choose to live life by making an impact on the world rather than sitting back and letting the world make an impact on them.