The essence of life coaching is straightforward. It is a guided conversation, or series of talks, between two people (sometimes more – life coaching can take place in groups), face-to-face, over the phone, or through other electronic means. Its goal is to help the client achieve tremendous success, happiness, and well-being than they are currently experiencing.
The coach assists the client in learning new ways of working, improving performance, and achieving better results. Clients may have a nagging feeling that their lives could be better or something is wrong, but they can’t put their finger on it. They frequently know what they want but are unsure how to obtain it. Coaches assist them in making decisions.
Some coaches have achieved success at a high level. Eileen Mulligan, author of Life Coaching, for example, built a £million company in the beauty industry and won business awards before becoming a successful business consultant and personal coach. Julia McCutcheon, a coach to many well-known authors, had an impressive track record in the publishing industry. Many management coaches can boast significant accomplishments in industry and commerce.
This is not, however, necessary. Many excellent life coaches have little or no experience in the areas where they coach their clients. Similarly, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, coaches of Britain’s most illustrious soccer teams, Manchester United and Arsenal, were not particularly successful as players, but that hasn’t stopped them from leading their teams to numerous trophies. Most film directors were not famous as actors, and most singing teachers who coach entertainment megastars were never favorite themselves, but they don’t have to be; what matters is that they know how to get the best out of their charges.
Because the term “life coaching” is relatively new, it is critical to understand what it is and is not.
Life Coaching is defined as:
- Preoccupied with deciding where you want to go and how to get there. It is concerned with the here and now as well as the future.
- Based on the premise that the future does not have to equate to the past, the past is relevant only if it is likely to impact the coaching results significantly.
- A process that assists you in thinking about your current circumstances and clarifying your goals in all areas of your life in a balanced manner.
- Exploring your thoughts, feelings, and experiences to promote learning and constructive action. You can learn to improve your communication skills, to be more confident, motivated, and proactive, to deal with stress, cultivate self-discipline, create favorable attitudes, and change unproductive behaviors.
- A motivator. Between coaching sessions, insights and learning are just as likely to emerge.
- A valuable tool for developing a plan to achieve your life goals.
Life Coaching is not:
- Psychotherapy or counselling does not attempt to address psychological or emotional issues (although this can happen). Even if they are trained therapists, reputable life coaches who detect a client’s need for therapy would recommend consulting a therapist (which some are). They understand that conflating therapy and coaching is counterproductive.
- Life coaches impose their opinions on clients or resolve their problems. They do not absolve their clients of responsibility. They assist them in finding their path, even if it is not the path suggested by the coach.
- A short-term solution to address immediate problems. It takes a long-term perspective while also being concerned with today’s actions.