Who needs a life coach anyway?
Let’s start with the dictionary definition of a life coach:
- Webster says a life coach is “an advisor who helps people make decisions, set and reach goals, or deal with problems.”
- The Oxford English Dictionary says a life coach is: “A person who counsels and encourages clients on matters having to do with careers or personal challenges.
I am not wild about either definition, primarily because of the words “advisor” and “counsel” and “encourage”… which makes it sound like life coaches tell you what to do. I am sure there are some coaches who do just that, but they’re not strictly speaking life coaches.
If I was to write the definition in the dictionary, here are 2 key elements of any good life coach:
A life coach helps you understand yourself
Life coaches help you develop a relationship of self-trust by revealing inner thoughts to yourself. The work you’ll do with a life coach – or at least a certified life coach – is about finding the cause of your habits or patterns – the why behind what you do.
When you know what your patterns are and why they are there, creating change is easier. And you can create change in your own life and in yourself from exactly where you are; the external things don’t have to change. And, like your mom always told you, you can’t change the circumstances and people of your life.
I believe you have to know yourself in order to change yourself. Shakespeare’s knew this when he gave this line to Polonius in Hamlet:
“This about all: to thine own self be true.
And it must follow, as the night the day.
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this is thee!”
A life coach won’t tell you what to do
Life coaches differ from consultants, mentors, advisors, therapists, or counselors. We help clients by examining what is going on right now, discovering what their obstacles or challenges might be, and then the client can choose a course of action to make their life be what they want it to be. Here’s a passage I like from the International Coaching Federation:
“Life coaches cannot possibly be experts on their clients’ unique life paths, or giftings, or sense of life callings. They can’t know those things until their clients discover them for themselves. So a life coach’s primary role is to help clients do exactly that—to discover for themselves, through a relationship with the coach, what lies uniquely within themselves.”
In other words, it’s what Glinda said to Dorothy:
Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?
Glinda: She wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.
Side note: I actually was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz in 5th grade :)
A good life coach will help you – the ultimate expert on yourself and your life – uncover your thoughts, wants needs, and desires. How? By asking the right questions, by sharing the tools and techniques we’ve learned, and by holding the space for you to find the answers. That means we don’t jump in the pool, join the pity party, or bad mouth everything with you. You get to save that for your friends. (I personally spend a few minutes each day on the phone with my friend Michelle. We get to give each other loads of advice!!)
But as a coach – your coach – my job is to show you yourself from a place of love and teach you how to take responsibility without blaming yourself, create what you want, and make peace with your world, that’s exactly what I do.
I primarily work with my clients in one-on-one coaching sessions via phone or in person to teach them these amazing tools. If you need someone who can simply listen and agree with your story, that’s understandable but that’s not what I do.
What I do is help you discover your power to create new possibilities with the most powerful tool you have: your mind. At the core of it all is understanding your mind and listening to your thoughts.
Why is it important to choose what you think? Because your thoughts – all 60,000 per day — about the events (facts or circumstances in your life) create your feelings, which drive your actions, which in turn determine your result. You have the ability to listen to your own thinking and decide – choose – whether that thought is serving you or not.
Most of us try to make changes by changing the actions we take in our lives. You want to lose weight, the action you take is to go on a diet, or exercise, or both. Those actions will drive your result – losing weight. What you haven’t done (perhaps) is examine why you overeat to begin with. It isn’t because you like food more than you like being at your natural weight. It is because the food is doing something for you – what is that something? (I think Dr. Phil used to call it the payoff…)
As you read some of my other blog posts, you’ll get the sense that I ran from the “what is that something I am missing” for a long time. I really did not want to know what I was thinking. Or feeling. But I did want to get out of the house and add something to my life, to “reinvent” myself and use my brain! But the reality was that I carried a lot of negative emotions about my role as Household CEO – and thus myself, and my thoughts about self-esteem – and it is pretty hard to create permanent change from “I want more.” This is why one of the first things I do is help women make peace with where they are in life. This season of life. I’ve shared more of my story on the other pages of this blog to show you the powerful change this creates.
To sum it all up: life coaches aren’t therapists, counselors, advisors or paid friends.
We’re here to use our skills, tools, and techniques to help you create the change you want. We do that by helping you understand your thoughts. By understanding your thinking – you create your feelings, which in turn drive your actions that determine your results – you create change. I’m going to tell you a lot more about this in the coming months. Subscribe to my newsletter to have them delivered to your inbox!)
Because, as Glinda says “you have always had the power within you…” So whether it’s a return to Kansas, discovering how to turn into a good witch, finding something new to get excited about, discovering your creativity or the career you’ve dreamed out, life coaches can help.
Questions? Contact me privately or leave a comment below.