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Dissecting the Life Coach Phenomenon

Apr 2, 2008
All coaching is, is taking a player where he can't take himself.
Bill McCartney

Life Coaching is not new.

Life Coaching as a profession started in the 1980s. Then, it catered more to executives or managers. Now, this profession has developed to cover a lot of areas from helping people choose the right career options to managing difficult personal or professional relationships.

But what is coaching all about?

As per The International Coach Federation (ICF):
"Coaching is an on-going partnership that helps clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Through the process of coaching, clients deepen their learning, improve their performance, and enhance their quality of life. Beginning with the clients' desires, coaching uses reporting, exploring, and a consistent commitment to move the client forward. Coaching accelerates the clients' progress by providing greater focus and awareness of choice. Coaching concentrates on where clients are today and what they are willing to do to get where they want to be tomorrow."

If this was too much to grasp, let's simplify.
Coaching involves a professional partnership between a coach and the client. Coaches listen to their client's problems or concerns, and then provide coaching through which the client determines what steps to take to overcome his or her problems and move ahead.

Coaches do not give advice, nor do they offer therapy. They simply act like a catalyst to help people achieve individual goals.

Through Life Coaching people live a better life as they get help in making the right moves, which they are not able to make on their own.

This does not mean that no one can work out things on their own. It rather means the opposite.
Everyone has some limitations, which directly or indirectly affect a number of areas in his or her life or how he or she looks at different situations in life.

These limitations or weaknesses, whether mental, emotional or psychological, create barriers and hold up personal development.

This is when a Life Coach comes in. The process of coaching helps people break those barriers themselves and pave the way to achieving their goals.

A number of people correlate the work of a Life Coach to that of a psychologist. That's not the same.
While a psychologist focuses on analyzing your past actions and getting to the root of the problem, a Life Coach concentrates on helping you to frame the right steps in future to achieve your individual goal.
A psychologist might offer therapy and advice. A Life Coach does not.

A very good analogy is that of a Personal Fitness Trainer.

Consider you are joining a gym. Your fitness trainer will first ask you what you want to achieve. Whether you want to

Lose weight?
Lose fat?
Build muscles?
Build endurance?
Increase stamina?

The trainer will then see where you stand now in relation to your goal.

For example, if you want to trim down body fat, you will be asked to take a body fat composition test to measure the current body fat level. You may have to take a fitness test and may be asked about present eating habits. All this is a part of helping you get nearer to your goal.

The fitness trainer will first establish standards for you as to how much fat you intend to lose and over what period of time. It is based on all this that he designs a plan of action for you to reach your goal.

Having done this, he also supplies you with the required backing and support in the form of constant encouragement and motivation.

There may be many people who look towards reducing weight. But what they lack is the willpower and confidence to keep trying.

The trainer's job is to guide them through the difficult path towards their goal. He has to help the people achieve their goals more quickly and more effectively than if they tried by themselves.

This is what a Life Coach also does for you.

Here is a real life example.

Michelle and Roderick were married and leading a happy life together. Both of them were employed. Roderick was not very content with his job. He was looking for better opportunities, and as it just so happened, he got an offer from an overseas firm. The position was just what he wanted. It was time for him to make a decision.

If he took the job he would be happy career-wise, but leading separate lives, would their marriage survive? He could not possibly be selfish to ask Michelle to leave her job. And if he let go of the new job offer, he would feel guilty of having given up a great chance. Now this is what we call a fix!

What would you do if you were in Roderick's place?

Very difficult to decide, isn't it?

A Life Coach enters a person's life to help him live it better. Every person has problems. It may be a lack of confidence for someone, weak communication skills for another, or a lost career for someone else or even a problem with relationships.

The areas of life a coach can work on are:

1. Confidence and Self-esteem
- Feel good about yourself
- Have no room for self-doubt
- Get to know new people and be confident
- Speak confidently in front of groups

2. Career
- Know which job is right for you
- Move on to a better job
- Perform better on the job
- Earn a promotion
- Start your own business

3. Relationships
- Be a good listener
- Work through problems with your partner
- Sail smoothly through tough times
- Build stronger bonds

4. Communication
- How to communicate with anyone
- Talking to strangers
- How to get your point across effectively

5. Health / losing weight
- Improve your health
- Reduce stress
- Follow a healthy eating pattern
- Sticking to an exercise plan

6. Dreams and achievement
- Set firm goals
- Work out what you want from life
- Provide direction and purpose
- Have more fun
- Have more energy and always be ready for more

7. Money/Finance
- Earn more money
- Save more money
- Work out budgets and follow them

8. Getting what you want in life
- Becoming more organized
- Getting rid of barriers and negative thinking
- Manage your time more effectively
- Discover your values in life
- Clear the clutter that you are engulfed in
- How to stay focused

It covers almost everything that life is about, as you might have noticed.

The Role of a Life Coach

A Life Coach doesn't spoon-feed; he instructs. He is a guide, a medium to finding solutions. He is a motivational figure who coaches a client towards winning ultimate success.

A Life Coach challenges, questions, and nudges a person forward so that all inner capabilities can be unlocked.

Anytime in life, when you feel that you are trudging on pointlessly, Life Coaching will help you sit back and analyze what went wrong and where you need to make amendments.

Life Coaching, in that sense, provides a client with self-awareness, focus and accountability.

A Life Coach is a comrade, a shoulder to cry on, a guide, a philosopher, a parasol on a rainy day, a lifeboat and a cheerleader. He or she helps to make choices, polishes communication skills, and most significantly acts as a route map to finding all that a client wanted in his or her life

A point to remember is a Life Coach does not promise that his or her client will fulfill dreams and achieve whatever he or she wants to.

A Life Coach helps a client:

-understand and analyze what exactly his or her real dream or goal is

-identify inner strengths and potential in achieving the same

-recognize weaknesses that creates obstacles in moving ahead to accomplish goals
and then provides coaching so that the client comes out with the right action plan to get what he wants.

How does coaching work?

-Well, coaching can be conducted through a number of ways including sessions in person, on the telephone, using email, group coaching in person, and group coaching through the telephone. (teleclass)

No matter what method is used the approach is the same.

During each coaching session the coach and the client will discuss and explore the clients' journey including their goals, wins, challenges, and opportunities, as well as develop fieldwork for the coming week.

Fieldwork isn't like the homework you were assigned in school.
It consists of action steps to move you closer toward your goals and dreams.

The client brings the agenda and the coach brings the coaching skills to create a partnership that moves the client forward.
The client calls the coach at their scheduled time each week. The structure of coaching is flexible and can be designed with the client in a way that meets their individual needs and schedule.

The basic design consists of:

* 30 minute complementary "is this for you" session?
* An initial one-hour session to create a coaching strategy (in-person or by phone)
* Initial assessment to evaluate work and life needs and establish goals.
* Regular on-going coaching sessions (typically by phone/email)
* Exercises to increase self-awareness, encourage creative thinking, and develop practical skills.
* Full confidentiality
* Quartlery evaluation and review, along with strategies for ongoing support.

Coaching sessions are usually scheduled weekly, lasting from a half-hour to an hour.

Together, you will define the length and frequency that best supports the client. Sessions may be focused on one specific goal or challenge that the client is facing, or on a much broader set of personal or professional issues.

ife coaching truly is a phenomenon that is here to stay. It is the best way for a person to continue their evolution and make quantum leaps in the success of their life.
About the Author
Craig Miller is known as the Cake Coach, and he helps coaches learn how to have their cake and eat it too. If you want to accelerate your coaching business, then check out www.thecakecoach.com.
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