Life coaching is one of the fastest growing career choices in the world. Since it first developed as a methodology in the 1970’s, it has become accepted as a credible and powerful resource for many Fortune 500 companies, is provided in many companies as part of salary packages and is a key part of leadership training programs throughout the world.
Coaching is a conversation between two people where the client’s agenda is paramount, and the coach’s insights add valuable new thinking to old problems and existing challenges.
By working effectively together, a coach and client can brainstorm new solutions, see old challenges differently and bring new perspectives to life, decisions and how to move forward.
There is true empowerment when a coaching session is done well. The client is invigorated, has a sense of clarity about where they’re heading, or is able to face a challenge with more resilience. Great coaching means the coach has been present, available and able to provide a true reflection back to the client of where they’re at and how to progress from where they are.
For anyone who loves puzzles, who is interested in people, who values thinking deeply and reflecting on situations, on life or on challenges, coaching is a powerful vehicle for self-expression.
No two coaches are the same, and all develop their own style, their own preference for coaching conversations and methodologies and have clear parameters about what they are prepared to coach versus what they would refer to other coaches.
This diversity of expression and competence allows clients the freedom to find the coach which best suits them. Ultimately, this freedom provides the unique advantage to coaches of working with who they want, on the topics of their choice. And this then benefits the client, who gets specialist focus from a dedicated professional coach who knows their strengths and where they can make the most impact and difference.
In its truest sense, coaching is the expression of self. It’s the ability to see through the ‘surface level’ stuff that people present, and see into the truth of the person. This is a powerful gift for a coach to share with a client.
The coaching conversation is unique also in that it gives insights into what has been holding the client back, without getting drawn into long conversations about ‘what’s wrong’ and about the client’s past.
One of the most commonly heard comments about why someone wants to become a coach is that they don’t want to spend all their time talking about problems, but want to focus on solutions. A profound difference between more traditional methodologies and coaching is its focus on directionalised conversations.
Coaching is not for everyone. Not all issues are resolved within the coaching relationship. Not all people are suited to being coached and not all people are suited to becoming a coach. For people who it does suit, however, it’s a significant landing place which provides new insights into self, powerful reminders of true potential, and an opportunity to discover new levels of resilience, certainty, self-confidence and capability.
There is much ambiguity and in many places, too much choice for us to make sense, make decisions and make progress. Many people don’t move towards their goals simply because of the overwhelming choices around them.
With so much choice, and so much access to new possibilities, there are a significant number of people who actually feel down about themselves. They see all this abundance, feel overwhelmed, and don’t act; and then feel bad about not acting. And then feel bad about feeling bad about not acting.
Add to this so many publications and media outlets promoting self-analysis, self-reflection and self-realisation, it’s little wonder that people feel overwhelmed and ‘less than’.
Coaching provides clarity amongst this noise, seeks to declutter what is not necessary and cut to the truth of what really matters. This is a gift to many in a complex world.
In our community we often hear someone say, ‘People spend more time planning for a holiday than they do planning their life’.
This raises good questions for coaches. Does it matter that some people don’t have a plan for their life? Isn’t ‘going with the flow’ just fine?
The answer, I think, is yes. Except when the person uses the ‘go with the flow’ reason for not doing anything with their life, and then feeling the effect of low self-esteem.
It makes sense to allow moments of plateau in our lives. It doesn’t serve, however, to not check in with ourselves about whether we feel fulfilled and that our life has meaning.
Coaching doesn’t give meaning to a life, but it can provide the direction to discover what would give someone’s life meaning. This is a powerful reason why coaching is so attractive to many people. Years of self-analysis has moved many no closer to understanding what makes them ‘tick’ and has, in many cases, causes feelings of inadequacy.
We can’t do anything about what we feel about our parents, our past or what has gone wrong. But we can change what meaning we give it. We can influence how we make decisions in the future, despite the past setback. Coaching provides a way forward, despite the disappointment of the past.