“Experience is not what happens to a man;
it’s what a man does with what happens to him.”
A Life Coach helps each of their clients to become increasingly proactive, rather than passive, and increasingly creative, rather than reactive, in the way they approach their lives. This empowering and positive process of change can be effective within all kinds of settings to bring out the best in people and Coaching is now a recognized profession with established methods for helping people grow and excel both in their personal lives and in their work.
Well-known life UK Coach and Trainer Curly Martin defines Life Coaching as a profession in the following way:
“Life coaching is a career and an ethical profession. The life coach uses the power of commitment to enable their clients to achieve beneficial and measurable results in all areas of their lives. Life coaching is a holistic process that has the power to balance and harmonize life.” 1
This simple yet powerful definition of Life Coaching gives a sense of the spiritual and holistic approach which is a strong element in Life Coaching. A key aspect of the coach’s role to their clients is to consistently hold a bigger perspective; as such the coach can be a tremendous ally for their clients and the relationship can have a profound effects.
The spiritual dimension of coaching underpins a very pragmatic approach to handling challenges and opportunities.
The ICF’s (International Coach Federation’s) Description of coaching is as follows,
“Professional Coaching is an ongoing professional relationship that helps people produce extraordinary results in their lives, careers, businesses, or organizations. Through the process of coaching, clients deepen their learning, improve their performance, and enhance their quality of life.“ 2
2 ICF website: www.coachfederation.com
Coaching is one of many types of profession with a fundamental aim of helping others function well or better in their lives. However, it is crucial to appreciate the important differences between coaching and counseling, psychotherapy, and advice giving services. The different schools of thought and subcategories with in these other professions each has its own position regarding how directional or non-directional its practitioners’ interactions are with their clients.
True coaching takes place at the nondirectional end of the spectrum; its remit being to assist those who are considered well (as opposed to ill) to refine and improve what they do to do it even better.
True coaches do not give specific advice; but they do teach the skills needed for creative thought and behavior.
If a potential or existing coaching client is experiencing severe ongoing emotional distress other help is indicated and should be referred by the coach to alternative forms of help such as counseling or therapy. The coach has an ethical duty to put the client’s wellbeing first, before their own self interest when making such decisions.
Coaching works with immediate life and business situations by enhancing the thinking that goes with them to make it more supportive and productive. As explained in ‘The Thirty Minute Life Coach’,
“Your coach will show you how to change the way that you think about adversity and may even point out that we learn far more from our mistakes than we do from our successes.” 3
3 The Thirty Minute Life Coach, Gerard O’Donovan & Curly Martin, The Coaching Academy UK Ltd., page38
Coaching provides the opportunity to investigate and clarify issues and situations arising directly from the client’s current life experience. It provides a nonjudgmental, open, trusting relationship within which to fully explore choices of action open to the client. It also provides the arena for choices to be made and commitment to be voiced out loud, and very importantly provides a mechanism for the client to hold themselves accountable with the coach’s assistance. Coaching provides a space for the challenge of unhelpful patterns of thought and behavior where needed; The challenge may come from the client themselves or from the coach.
It provides a structured approach to goal setting and achievement. Coaching enables the client to gain insight and awareness of their helpful and unhelpful patterns and tendencies, and refine their future actions accordingly.
Above all, Coaching is a relationship with the purpose of supporting clients in moving nearer to their potential in any and all aspects of their lives, whilst strictly adhering to the client’s own agenda for change.
Coaching provides the opportunity for a client to develop their relationship with themselves to a higher level than ever before, due to the steadfast commitment and compassion shown by the coach to whatever their client brings to the relationship.
Article from Noble-Manhattan Coaching Ltd. ‘A Definition of Coaching’