Life Coaching: Not to be Confused with…
Life coaching is relatively new in the world of personal service. It really began in the 1980’s in the field of business and the process was used by managers to support their employees to reach their full potential at work. Because all aspects of life are interconnected, it wasn’t long before it became obvious that coaching really needed to look at the whole person. It has been in the last five years that coaching has seemed to really find its way into the mainstream and individuals are partnering with a life coach to explore their own life’s potential.
It is human nature, when being introduced to something new, to compare it to something familiar in order to have a reference point. If you are trying a new food, before it goes in your mouth you will likely ask someone who has eaten it before, what it tastes like. If you then taste it yourself, you’ll be able to either agree with the comparison or create your own description. If you decide not to taste it, you only have someone else’s perspective.
Because life coaching is new and still somewhat unknown (in fact, about half the people I talk to haven’t heard of it), there are many questions about what it is similar to. The main processes that life coaching is compared to are: therapy, consulting, mentoring, and training. All of these processes / services have value and by describing them below it is not my intention to criticize, minimize, or devalue them. In fact, these processes are often complimentary to life coaching. My only intention is to clarify that they are different. Even though a kiwi is often compared to a strawberry in flavour, they are distinct.
Let’s use the example that Sara wants to move to another community. She feels like she wants a different environment and just wants something new. Sara is aware that this change is significant and is looking for a little support.
If Sara goes to therapy, the focus will be on determining what’s wrong with how things are in Sara’s life right now, what she is running from, and what she needs to heal in order to make this significant change successful.
The consultant will gather a great deal of information from Sara. What she is looking for in terms of weather, recreation opportunities, housing, cost of living, work opportunities, etc. With this information, the consultant then does research to see what’s possible to meet Sara’s criteria and will advise her on the best option to meet all of her needs.
Sara may know someone in her life that she admires, trusts, and aspires to live like. This person has had success moving from one community to another. Sara wants to tap into this person’s experience and expertise. This person becomes Sara’s mentor who will guide her, support her, encourage her, and advise her, basically sharing all of his/her knowledge about how s/he was able to have a successful relocation.
There are a number of practical skills that are necessary to move. There is selling a house, packing, storing, purging and moving possessions, looking for a new job, and probably others. If Sara wants to do any of these tasks herself, she would go to a trainer to learn these skills.
If Sara works with a life coach, she will basically have a partner through the moving process and beyond. The coach will work from the foundation that Sara is an expert in her own life and through a process of exploring her values, strengths, and passions, she will move forward with a plan and with confidence. If the move ends up to be a “mistake”, the coach will work with Sara to find a lesson in the experience and keep moving forward towards fulfillment. If the move is a success, the role of the life coach may end, or this may just be the catalyst for more changes that Sara will work on with support from her life coach.
So that’s my perspective on the “flavours” of a variety of personal support processes / services. The reality is that each person has different tastes, for both food and life. The very best way to get a real flavour for life coaching is to have a sample. Most coaches offer a free initial session because it is best understood by experiencing it. Just like different restaurants have different recipes for cheesecake, so too do different life coaches have different approaches. Don’t be afraid to sample a few life coaches until you find the one with the right flavour for you.
You can sample my life coaching recipe for free. Just send me an email to set up a phone session. [email protected]