So, what is coaching, anyway?
“If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control - myself.” -- Stephen Covey
When I mention to some people that I do coaching, I see a glazing over of the eyes and sense a whiff of “oh that’s nice” and a quick change of subject. I get it. Until I researched the topic myself, I actually thought that life coaching was a bunch of fancy “hoo-hoo”, based solely on spirituality, was nothing but fluff, just holding hands and singing kumbaya and asking a bunch of innocent questions, or just shallow interactions of doling out simple advice and asking how something makes you feel. So, believe me when I say I completely understand when it’s not taken seriously by those who have not yet experienced it.
And if that’s all it was, just talking about your feelings in some random fashion, I would not be interested. While I consider myself deeply spiritual and a pretty open book, I don’t like sitting around talking about my feelings at every turn. (But do not confuse this with not being in touch with my feelings. I rely on them for many things in my life - major decisions as well as human interactions in general. But they’re my feelings and do not require external validation (whoa - there’s a subject for future discussions!). I know that spiritual coaches do some amazing work with healing, energies and mediation, but the kind of coaches I’m talking about concentrate on practical, tangible results.
First, let’s talk about what life coaching isn’t - it isn’t therapy, it doesn’t deal with clinical depression, anxiety, addictions or other serious mental issues and is never, ever, a substitution for therapy - you will immediately get referred to a medical professional. Life coaches do not delve into the past or why you are the way you are - again, that’s therapy. It’s also not an environment where you are told how to correct anything. If I know how to change or fix something based on my prior experience or success, I don’t share it - greatly because that’s what helped ME in MY SITUATION, not yours, and I guarantee it’s different.
Another way to look at it - therapy is historical, coaching is the now.
Coaching is not mentoring. A mentor shares advice and responds to direct questions from the mentee.
Coaching is not consulting. A consultant is a professional who provides expert advice in a particular industry and gives you a road map with answers.
Coaching is not judgmental. Your choices aren’t wrong, and you will never be told you’re wrong. And I promise that you sure don’t want me to start singing.
So, what is life coaching? Or executive coaching or professional coaching….?