HOW DOES LIFE COACHING WORK?
A question that is commonly asked is, how does life coaching work? It can unfold in a variety of ways, depending on your needs, as well as the skills and perspectives of your coach. Often, what makes a huge difference is how much of a fit you are with your coach; you can easily determine this through a ‘chemistry session’ with the coach.
Medium & Tools
Most life coaches will work with you linguistically – that is, through speech and words. Depending on their training background and coaching skills, they might make use of tools such as personality analyses, questionnaires, or even physical props, and activities ranging from meditation to painting. A coach I know even uses water sports in her work!
In addition to speech and words, some coaches are trained to work with emotions and the physical body as well (also known as somatics). This is a powerful and holistic method of coaching known as ontological coaching, that is capable of creating long-term, transformation. Because a practitioner of ontological coaching can work with not just one, but three aspects of the client, this method of coaching can accommodate the client’s personality and offer much more possibilities for discovery. You can learn more about ontological coaching here.
Frameworks, Models & Training
Whatever the coaching process or medium, most effective coaches would base their work on established concepts and deep studies of the topic that they are offering help for, which you should ask about when you are trying to find a life coach. Listen to them and consider: does it make sense? Does it spark curiosity or awe for you? And how well are they able to explain it to you? As Einstein said, If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. These will give you hints of their coaching skills and a feel of what it might be like to learn from them.
Another obvious consideration is how they learnt their craft; what’s the level of rigor in their training? One coach might have taken a 3-day course while another may have labored a year. What was the theory and practicum like? Obviously, coaching skills is a big part of the consideration. Along with that, I would also ask if the coach had ever been coached; has he or she done the same work on themselves that you are now entrusting them to do with you? How does life coaching work with a coach who has neither been coached nor experienced the process from a client’s point of view? I personally find this difficult to imagine.
Beyond training and coaching skills, the personality and life experience of the coach will be the next determinant of the coaching experience. Remember that coaching is an intensively human-to-human process, so it will inevitably involve what the coach brings to the table. You could engage two coaches with very similar skills and yet come away with two very different sets of insights that both work for you!
What any professional and competent coach should be able to do then, is to keep the work “clean”, so that the client is the true owner of all learning, decisions or solutions that emerge during the coaching process.
Lastly, to properly answer how does life coaching work, there are two other important questions that beg to be answered, before any effective coaching is possible:
- Am I honestly aware that there is something I need to improve or change?
- Am I open to have a life coach to help me through it?
If you can say “yes” to the above two questions, you are ready for a coaching conversation!
What (Effective) Coaching Should NOT Be
It’s also important to note what coaching is NOT:
- coaching is not therapy
- coaching is not counselling
- coaching is not consulting
- coaching is not mentoring
- coaching is not teaching (though there should be plenty of learning)
Generally, unless it’s a sport or a performance-centric activity, most of the time, your coach should NOT:
- tell you what to do
- give you advice
- teach or train you
I would say that in this sense, what a coach doesn’t do is also an important indicator of his or her coaching skills.
Coaching is About
Finding Your Own Answers
It may sound strange, but the coach should not be leading you to a preconceived conclusion or solution. This is important if you are looking for truly long-term, transformational shifts towards your objectives. Any conclusions you draw or any solutions you devise, should be purely your own. I often ask my clients to sound the alarm if they ever feel I am offering too many ‘answers’ in our work together.
True, effective life coaching helps you uncover your own answers, because a good coach recognizes that you are the expert and master of your own life.
My own answers? I want help, that is why I’m hiring you to coach me!
Yes, and help you I will. And I do so from the belief that you, the client, are whole, creative and fully capable of achieving what you want. It’s just that you can get there more quickly – and with less suffering – with my help.
It’s almost like driving; it is possible to drive on the roads without mirrors, but it’s certainly easier if you have them to check your blind spots. Not to mention that you could avoid accidents. What I provide as a coach is a “human mirror” to help you see your blind spots, uncover new possibilities and find your own way to your objectives.
Lastly, a good coach assumes that there is nothing wrong with the client. The client is not broken, nor does he or she need to be “fixed” in any way. In fact, people who seek coaching (and are willing to be coached) are typically healthy, driven and insightful – conditions that are required for an engaging, illuminating, two-way conversation.
Start Seeing The Answers You Couldn’t See
See what coaching with me is like, in a ‘chemistry’ session.