“What is a life coach?” a friend asked me the other day.
“If I hire you, I expect to accomplish …”
… a prospective client once told me. It sounds like he confused me with the Genie from Aladdin’s lamp!
The Genie from Aladdin’s lamp (for those not familiar with the myth) comes out and tells Aladdin that he will GRANT him three WISHES. In other words, Aladdin is supposed to ask for what he wants… and he will immediately receive it.
A life coach will do no such thing.
Disclaimer: Not everyone is able to work with a life coach, especially if they are not ready to take responsibility for their own results in life. A life coach will expect the client to do the work, and will act as a guide and a CATALYST for achieving specific goals.
So What Is A Life Coach, Exactly?
A life coach is extremely helpful to those individuals who either have specific goals they’d like to accomplish (like get a promotion, start a business, or save a marriage) or to those who have a yearning for bigger and better things in life, but are not sure how to accomplish that yearning.
The following are the MOST VALUABLE traits of a life coach. A life coach is:
- an objective observer, seeing a person’s life from the “bird’s eye view”.
- someone who tells the truth, with the intention of moving a client forward in multiple areas of life.
- a guide for setting measurable and time-bound goals (so they are more likely to be achieved).
- a facilitator, defining goals and creating a solid plan to achieve those goals.
- a destroyer of mental blocks (blocks almost always show up when growth is occurring).
No man is an island.”
That last one (mental block destroyer) is extremely valuable, because most people cannot appropriately judge their own limitations… much like an amazing surgeon cannot operate on himself.
What is a life coach, then?
Someone who does whatever it takes to support their client in getting the results they want for themselves and their life.
What Does A Life Coach NOT Do?
Life coaches are not to be confused with therapists or consultants. Therapists delve into a client’s past. A consultant is an expert in a particular field and tells clients HOW to accomplish a certain task.
Here’s what a Life Coach will NOT do:
- Tell clients what to do (but they WILL guide them to figure it out themselves, so they feel empowered, become better thinkers, and better decision-makers).
- Sugarcoat things for the client (much like most friends and family do).
- Solve all problems and make clients a ton of money (Without the client lifting a finger? Yeah, right.).
The True Value Of A Life Coach
Oftentimes, people think that they can accomplish great things ALL ON THEIR OWN. But as the saying goes, “No man is an island.” I have yet to hear of a success story about a person moving up in life without any help from a mentor or a coach (even Michael Jordan had a coach).
Most people don’t realize that they have certain beliefs about life (or themselves) which limit their performance and level of fulfillment.
Limiting beliefs are beliefs (or strong theories) about how things are, or “the way it is”. These beliefs (which have been either acquired through experience or were taught), will show up and stop people dead in their tracks when they set out to accomplish something big.
Limiting beliefs are beliefs (or strong theories) about how things are, or “the way it is”
Typically, this will happen during times of change or when a client is making significant progress in life . People naturally don’t adjust well to change, and usually slip back into their old ways, if they don’t have the support of a coach or a mentor.
Who Does a Life Coach Work With?
Let’s look at an example of someone in dire need of a life coach:
Mr. Peterson is a 35 year old man, who has just gone through a divorce. He is sick of the way he has been living his life, wants to become fit, and would like to find a new woman.
Mr. Peterson sounds motivated, right?
But, what he doesn’t realize is that he has a few limiting beliefs about women.
He believes all women use him for his money, and that he will be able to attract a “good one” by looking fit (sounds ridiculous, but most limiting beliefs are).
As a result, whenever Mr. Peterson becomes close to a woman, even marries her, he is destined to drive her away. He becomes constantly defensive, because he feels that she doesn’t love him and is just using him for his money.
What’s predictable, is that Mr. Peterson will go and work out five days a week, thinking that it’ll be the ideal solution to attracting the right mate and achieving a loving relationship. He may very well attract another good candidate, but will undoubtedly repeat HIS PATTERN.
He is completely UNAWARE of this! He will continue to live this way, going through one disappointing relationship after another, always blaming the women.
On the other hand, if Mr. Peterson decides to resolve this issue once and for all, he may seek help from a life coach to help him solve his relationship problems.
Maybe he realized that his failures are from something he is doing to himself? Perhaps he knows that he needs to make some internal changes… but he is just not sure how, specifically?
What a SKILLED Life Coach Does For Improving Quality of Life
When asking “What is a life coach?” a helpful clue is to think about the areas that a life coach focuses on to support their clients. In order to achieve complete life fulfillment, a person needs to perform at a score of 8 – 10 (out of 10) in the most important areas of their life.
Here are the main areas a life coach will usually cover throughout a coaching relationship:
- intimate relationships
- family and friends relationships
Each coach has slightly different approaches on HOW they structure their client relationships, but a skilled coach will help their clients get what they want in life by doing the following:
- Help define personalized goals.
- Keep their client accountable (make sure they stay on track with taking ACTIONS towards achieving their specific goals).
- Be able to recognize a self-sabotaging pattern (and then help change it).
- Build up self-esteem and confidence.
- Help clients be more decisive and focused (or whoever they need to be in order to accomplish their goals and dreams).
- Celebrate wins (enthusiastically) along the way with their client.
A skilled life coach is able to support their client in identifying things that hold them back in life. Not only that, but he/she is an expert in exposing blind spots (which we ALL have, in one area or another), or (as I mentioned) limiting beliefs. A great coach will expose those blind spots and keep the client moving forward.
It is a Two-Way Street
It is important to remember that, once again, a life coach is NOT a GENIE. In order to achieve great results, the client has to show up, ready to do the work… and take responsibility for their results.
But, if that client is game to go for it, a coaching relationship can work magic for their life.
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Writer, Coaches Training Blog community