" A coach is someone who tells you what you don't want to hear, and has you see what you don't want to see, so you can be who you have always known you can be" - Tom Landry
What Is Coaching?
Coaching is about getting a trained professional to support you in getting what you really want in life. Whether that means you developing a new, happier psychology, or going after that childhood dream, it's always about taking you from where you are now, to where you want to be. It’s about getting you to set clear, definable goals and then getting you to follow through with action to make that goal a reality. It's also about having that person in your life who you can go to with absolutely anything and trust that it's in a completely confidential and non-judgmental space. Unlike counselling or therapy, which might take you back into the past, coaching is very much focused on the here and now. It's about looking forward to the wide-ranging possibilities for the future.
Who Are Coaches?
An experienced coach is someone who's made themselves an expert in the field of personal development. Everything they read, listen to, write about or watch either has something to do with how the brain works or is inquiring into what our basic human needs are to be happy. Genuine coaches have undergone rigorous training programmes, accredited by international governing bodies like the ICF (International Coaching Federation) or the IIC&M (International Institute for Coaching and Mentoring). In short, just by following their passion every day, they have become virtual academics in the field of happiness research. Yet to call them academics is to do a disservice to their main type of intelligence which is emotional.
A great coach has worked their whole life on the most effective methods for engendering personal growth in others. Their emotional intelligence means they don’t develop hard and fast rules or a one-size-fits-all approach. In some moments it will be in the best interests of the client to be challenged, in some moments it will be in their best interests to be listened to. In some moments during a client’s development they will need a little push towards taking action, in other moments this could be the worst possible course of action. Perhaps, most importantly, emotionally intelligent coaches can get into the heads of their clients to such an extent that they can truly see the world from their point of view, but at the same time manage to keep an objectivity that allows them to see the bigger picture.
A Professional Listener
An experienced life coach has also been trained to listen properly. It often takes a fair amount of time to get to the real issue holding a client back because this is usually buried deep beneath the surface and only comes out if it is given the space to do so. A successful life coach knows this and isn’t waiting for their turn to speak. Rather, they have a genuine curiosity and interest in the client’s life and are prepared to listen patiently and non-judgmentally for both verbal and non-verbal clues for what might really be contributing to the client's difficulty. The feeling of being truly listened to, and the process of being allowed to get everything out on the table often leads the client to immediate realisations about what they have to do, without any further input from the coach.
The Power Of Questions
A successful life coach is also trained in the art of powerful questions. Powerful questions aren’t leading (eg. don’t you feel you ought to do this?) or closed (do you want to do this?) but are open and mind-expanding. These types of questions grow the client’s awareness of themselves and their situation and give them clarity on what their next move should be. Great questions get the client to think about their goal or challenge from a different or deeper perspective and bring the client to a faster understanding of what it is that they need to do to change. They also get the client to think in terms of reasons why they want something. This either increases our motivation to go to work on a problem, or lets us know that we've been wasting time with something that doesn’t fit in with who we really are.
Getting You To Take Action
A successful life coach is also great at getting their client to take action - and action with enthusiasm! This only comes about because the experienced coach knows when the time is right to get their client to commit. Whatever the client is working on they must first get to the root cause of what is holding them back and fully explore all the options available to them. At this point the coach is great at pinning the client down to the specifics of their goal, breaking it down into small manageable chunks and then getting them emotional about the reasons why achieving this goal will change their lives. Only then does the intelligent coach ask for a commitment to action.