The mission: for everyone to have a clear, consistent understanding of life coaching.
Why is it my mission for people to understand life coaching? Because until people understand what it is and how it can enhance their lives, they will not engage in it. Why is it important for people to engage in a life coaching process? In my opinion, coaching is important because the world is changing so much and so rapidly that it’s hard to slow down enough to make decisions based on what is right for the individual. The coaching process is a great tool for focusing in on yourself and your passions.
This is the first of several blogs that will work towards my mission. It is the story of my journey into the world of life coaching.
It was about six years ago that I first came across the term “life coaching”. I was working with youth in a drug treatment program and was always looking for new approaches to engage these young people in their own process for change. I found a number of articles about life coaching and gave them a read. It seemed familiar and very similar to the therapeutic recreation approaches I had been using for many years. I held a fundamental belief in my work with youth that each of them (and everyone, for that matter) has a particular passion that they are born to express. For some individuals, their passion presents itself early in life and they have the resources, commitment, and confidence to live it out. I think of Clara Hughes (Olympic medalist in cycling and speed skating), Maria Aragon (the 10 year old Youtube singing sensation from Winnipeg), and Hannah Taylor (who founded the Ladybug Foundation to help the homeless when she was 8 years old). My mission at that time was to encourage the young people I worked with to explore their passions and provide opportunities for them to build the confidence to pursue their passions, despite all of the roadblocks they were faced with. I believe that if individuals are aware of their personal needs, values, passions and discover healthy ways to fulfill those things, then they will not turn to drugs or other self-defeating behaviors.
At that point, I basically put the information I acquired about life coaching into the category of “I already do that” and continued on with my job without a second thought. Fast forward four year later and it became more and more obvious to me that I was not being completely true to my passion (helping people pursue their passions) in my current work situation. I had been working with youth at risk and their families for over fifteen years and had so many experiences that I shared with amazing young people when they were completely tapped into their “true self”. I put a lot of energy into convincing the organizations I worked for to change the way they provided service and I was even dubbed the “leisure evangelist” by some of my co-workers. After years of trying to change my environment to fit me and my beliefs, with little noticeably movement and a number of set-backs, I was worn-out . I got to the point that the disharmony between my own values, beliefs, passion and how I was allowed to provide support was leading me to experience chronic headaches and stomach pain. I tried to focus on the positive things about my job; good pay, flexible work hours, some awesome co-workers, benefits, and eight weeks of vacation. But as much as I tried, I simply could not put aside what I knew to be my truth and I had to explore a different way to pursue my passion.
The information that I had put in the back of my mind six years earlier, crept into my conscious and I more seriously began looking into life coaching and it became ultimately clear to me that this was my path. Then suddenly, with this clarity, everything around me seemed to be about life coaching. Oprah had Martha Beck, Anthony Robbins was everywhere, and I found thousands of programs on the internet that were offering life coaching certification. As I began talking to my friends and family about the direction I was heading, they either shared that they knew someone who was life coach, knew someone who worked with a life coach, or had worked with a life coach themselves. Then I started meeting life coaches and they seemed to be everywhere. It’s like when you buy a new car. Before you own the particular model you never really notice it but as soon as you get one, it seems like every second vehicle you see is the same as yours.
The reality is, however, that even though life coaching is very apparent to me and present in my life, it definitely isn’t something that is familiar to everyone. After my initial experience when I first began talking about life coaching and I seemed to be the last one to be learning about it, I realize that there is still a large portion of my community that is unaware of life coaching. Now, I often get responses of “what is that?” or “I’ve never heard of that” or “is that like counselling?” or there is an assumption of what it is based on their knowledge of sports coaching.
So, I really don’t know how hard it is going to be to achieve my mission for everyone to have a clear, consistent understanding of life coaching. I imagine that life coaching is currently at the place where yoga was about ten years ago; some awareness by the general population but perceived to be “for someone else”. Today most people are aware of yoga and it has become so mainstream that people in all sorts of demographics are doing it, in a variety of different ways. As there are different specialties in yoga, there are specialties in life coaching. That will be a point to expand on in a future blog.
Mission accomplished? Not yet.
More mission blogs to come!