What is a Life Coach?

Coaching is a huge buzzword in business and leadership circles.  Unfortunately, many outside of those circles are not familiar with the concept of coaching.  When most people hear the phrase life coach, they immediately think of an athletic coach. In reality, a life coach is not  much different than an athletic coach.  The purpose of an athletic coach is to bring out the best in an athlete.  The athlete already has the natural talent and ability to excel in their sport, but without the coach that talent and ability may never reach its full potential.  A coach’s job is to recognize what is already present within an athlete and help the athlete refine it.  A life coach is very similar.  Life coaches help people discover the raw talent and ability that already exists within them and refine it to its maximum potential.  The big difference is that a life coach, unlike an athletic coach, does not tell their client what to do.  Instead a life coach guides the client through discovery and decision making steps by listening, asking questions, and reflecting, along with giving perspectives and options.  It has been said that coaching is the discipline of helping people grow without telling them what to do.

A life coach is not a counselor, a mentor, or a consultant.  While counselors, mentors, and consultants play a vital role in society, life coaches fill a unique niche in helping people attain their goals.  When someone goes to a counselor, mentor, or consultant they are looking for the counselor, mentor or consultant to give them answers.  Rather than giving answers, a coach will guide their client through the process of finding the answers for themselves.

Coach vs. Counselor – A counselor will focus on past problems to help their client solve their issues.  In this relationship the counselor is the one providing the answers.  A coach, on the other hand, focuses on the future and works alongside the client to come up with a plan to attain their desired future.  In this relationship the coach guides the client in coming up with their own answers.

Coach vs. Mentor – A mentor is someone willing to share their life experiences with others. The basic concept of mentoring is “here is how I did it; I will help you do it too.”  A coach does not have to have experience in a particular field or endeavor to be able to help someone accomplish a goal.  A trained coach knows how to assist people in finding the answers that they need, regardless of the subject matter. While a mentor pours in knowledge, a coach draws out knowledge.

Coach vs. Consultant – A consultant is an expert that is willing to share their knowledge.  A coach believes that people know where to find the expertise that they need.  A coach will guide a person through the process of finding that expertise.

The benefits of coaching are hard to ignore.  Research tells us that when people are given answers by someone else, there is a 10% retention rate with only a 5% implementation rate after six months.  However, if someone comes up with an answer on their own there is a 90% retention rate with a 75% – 90% implementation rate after six months.

Is coaching for me?
Do you have one or more areas of your life that need to be changed? Are you serious about achieving your goals? Are you willing to be honest with yourself and others? Are you open to feedback and new ideas? Are you willing to invest the time and effort into becoming the best that you can be? If your answer is yes, then coaching is for you!

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