Are you confused by what life coaching is and if it’s actually what you need to help you achieve your personal and business goals as a female service provider?
There is a lot of misunderstanding about what coaching actually is and what it isn’t.
There are a ton of people calling themselves life coaches.
But are they really coaches? By that I mean, do they really use a ‘coaching approach‘? (Frankly, sometimes it really bugs me when people call themselves a ‘coach’ but don’t use a coaching approach at all.)
Or is it just a title they came up with because it sounds cool. Or maybe they couldn’t come up with anything else to call themselves so use it as the best next thing?
Since it’s International Coaching Week, it feels like the perfect time to bust the myths about life coaching and celebrate its transformational power.
In this blog, you’ll discover the answers to these questions:
- What is the definition of life coaching
- What coaching is NOT. How is it different from mentoring and counselling
- How do I know if coaching is right for me
- What are the benefits of life coaching
- How does coaching actually work
- What to expect from your very 1st session
- What happens during a standard life coaching session
- How to best prepare for a coaching session
- Do you pass the Ready, Willing & Able to be coached Test
As an accredited professional Personal Performance Coach, my aim for this article is to demystify what coaching truly is and what it isn’t at its very core and share with you the basic fundamentals of life coaching.
I will explain how it works and what to expect from a coaching session in line with the guidelines from world-renowned, highly reputable organisations such as the International Coaching Federation and The Coaching Academy.
The Coaching Academy (TCA) is a UK-training coaching organisation that now considers itself as the largest in the world of its kind.
Plus, I will give you some questions to ponder on to help you decide if working with a coach is the right type of support for you and what you need to make sure is in place before you get started.
So, are you ready to dive in?
1. What is the definition of life coaching
For the purposes of this article, I will be referring to coaching in its purest version and will be focusing on personal performance coaching more commonly known as life coaching.
As mentioned earlier, the definitions and explanations in this article are based on the teachings of the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and The Coaching Academy (TCA).
The International Coaching Federation, ICF, describes coaching as:
Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.International Coaching Federation
In the words of The Coaching Academy (TCA):
Life coaching assists a client to bridge the gap between where they are now, to where they would like to be far more effectively than if they worked alone.The Coaching Academy
The TCA goes on to elaborate that “A life coach achieves this by:
- Helping to raise the awareness of a client with powerful questioning techniques so they can get clear on what they truly desire and who they are at their core
- Assisting them to create practical, step-by-step action plans to reach their goals
- Providing on-going support through any changes or obstacles a client may encounter
- Providing a client with tools, techniques and strategies to create lasting change and success“
In other words, coaching is about supporting individuals to create clarity and realise the potential within themselves. It is a structured conversation, during which the coach uses powerful tools and techniques to help their client uncover their own answers, gain clarity on what they want and what could be holding them back. Through this increased level of awareness, the client is able to see different perspectives and breakthrough obstacles and go on to achieve their ambitions.
2. What coaching is NOT. How is it different from mentoring and counselling
One of the common mistakes people make is to confuse coaching for either mentoring or counselling.
While some coaching skills may overlap or seem similar, a coach is not a therapist, counsellor, a consultant or a mentor. (I will be writing another more detailed post about the difference between coaching, mentoring, consulting, therapy and counselling so subscribe to my newsletter to get it in your inbox when it’s ready).
Life coaching in non-directive, non-judgmental, non-critical and confidential.
2.1 How coaching is different from COUNSELLING?
A counsellor might work with those who are experiencing significant levels of distress which is impacting their everyday life. Counselling tends to delve into the past.
Coaching would only use the past to drawn on strength, experiences and the learnings so that we can use these in the future to obtain the outcomes we want.
2.2 How coaching is different from MENTORING?
A mentor might work with those seeking direction from someone with experience and knowledge in the same area. A coach would not give any advice, suggestions or recommendations.
A coach will help you through effective questioning to become more resourceful and identify what is right for you.
If you commence a series of coaching sessions and it is deemed that coaching is not the correct support mechanism for you at this moment in time this will be discussed with you directly to find a suitable alternative intervention to support you.
3. How do I know if coaching is right for me
If you’re perfectly happy with your life and there is nothing you want to improve or do differently, then coaching may not be for you.
Here are some questions to help you gauge if coaching is right for you:
- Do you feel that currently, you aren’t reaching your potential and feeling fulfilled?
- Is there a gap between where you are now and where you want to be?
- Do you sometimes feel you don’t have the skills, resources or confidence to get something complete?
- Do you feel stuck and put off making decisions or fail to stick to those decisions you have made?
- Are you ready to entertain new and fresh ideas?
- Are you willing to be accountable for achieving what you want?
If you’ve answered with ‘YES’ to one or more of the questions above, then life coaching can be the right support for you.
4. What are the benefits of life coaching?
The main role of a Personal Performance or a Life Coach is to help you unlock lock your potential, maximise your performance and achieve your desired results.
They can help you achieve your goals and ambitions faster than you would on your own by helping you:
- Gain clarity about what you truly want, why you want it and how you can achieve it
- Find what motivates you to keep going even when it gets tough or you start doubting yourself
- Get to understand yourself intimately so you know to play your personality’s strengths
- Broaden your perspective and exploring new opportunities
- Develop empowering mindset and build your confidence and self-belief
- Cultivate healthy habits and become more creative and productive
- Remain focused, stay on track and progress faster with accountability
- Find the right way for you to do things
- Feel supported and encouraged as your coach
This is only a flavour of the potential benefits and it’s transformation powers.
5. How does coaching work?
During a coaching session, your coach will walk by your side to help you to reach your ultimate goal and aspirations.
They will listen to you, ask questions, find out what your challenges are and inspire you to reach your end goal by helping you to create manageable actions.
You will be encouraged to make decisions and take responsibility for acting on these decisions.
Different coaches use different models to structure their sessions. A popular model is the GROW model which is an acronym for the areas explored: Goals, Reality, Options and Way forward.
This model keeps you moving forward towards your goal. Your coach will be asking you questions, listening to your responses, challenging you while all the time remaining non-judgemental regarding the details and not offering you any advice.
6. What to expect from your very first session
Typically, your very first session varies in format and also in length from the ongoing coaching sessions. The Coaching Academy calls it the Intake Session. The purpose of the Intake Session is to settle into the coaching relationship and the coach will discuss your goals for the coaching more in-depth. It can last about 90mins.
The coach may talk a little more than usual to make sure that both parties are on the same page. It’s used to set expectations from both the client and the coach, explain how the coaching programme will run and how to make the most out of it. Ultimately, this helps you start the coaching programme off to the right start off and the whole relationship is set off on the right foot.
7. What will happen during a standard coaching session
Sessions usually are 60 minutes long. The coach will manage the timing of the session and ensure you gain full value from the session.
Typically, a coach will guide you through a 6 point process.
- Review the previous session and the actions that you completed
- Set the goal for that session
- Consider where you are at the present moment with this goal
- Consider your options in meeting this goal
- Agree on some actions
- Summarise the session before completing the session
Let’s break these down a little more.
1. Review your actions
First, you’ll talk about how you got on with the actions that you committed to taking in the previous session. Ideally, you would have submitted your review before your session.
You would reflect on questions such as:
- What actions have you completed?
- What actions didn’t you not complete? What were the reasons?
- What have you learnt?
- What could you do differently going forward?
A good life coach would notice if there is a pattern of you not following through with certain actions you commit to and will work through with you to find out whether they are the right ones for you to do or if something else needs to change to empower you to follow through with your commitments.
2. Set a goal for the session
In traditional life coaching, you may choose to focus on the same topic and overall goal for the whole duration of your coaching relationship or you can bring a different topic to each session.
For example, your circumstances may change during the coaching. Or as a result of the coaching progress, you may discover that you want to focus on a different topic to the one you initially sought coaching for. There is flexibility about changing the topic and not always sticking to the same overall goal. Given that coaching is not about giving you advice, you should be able to go ahead as long as your coach feels competent in coaching you around your new topic.
To hit the ground running quickly, it’s best that you have prepared a topic for the coaching session. Your coach will help you flesh out exactly what you want to work towards.
The Coaching Academy says that “If there is no goal, it’s not coaching”. The purpose of life coaching is to help you work toward something you want to achieve whether you prefer to call it a goal, outcome, intention, aim or some other word that speaks to you best. (I will use these words interchangeably in this blog post.)
Your coach will help you formulate the overall outcome that you want to achieve and help you break it down into manageable milestones or stepping stones.
As part of the goal-setting process, your life coach will help you set an intention that is:
- Outcome-focused – something you want to achieve
- Inspiring – it inspires you and you have strong motivation to work towards it
- Specific – you are clear on what you’re focusing on
- Measurable – you when you’ve achieved it
- Positive – it is something you want to move towards rather than escape or avoid it has a negative connotation
- Personal – it’s about you and what is within your control and it’s not about someone else or what you want someone else to do
- Present – stated in the present tense rather than future
- Attainable – within your control to achieve, it stretches you enough without sending you in the panic zone where you freeze and get stuck
- Timelined – you have a specific timeframe within which you want to achieve your outcome
- Recorded/Written – you have noted it down so you can refer to exactly what you had promised yourself to do
- Reviewed and updated – you review to make sure it’s still relevant for you to work on and update it as needed
3. Review your reality
In this section, you look at where you’re right now. You discuss the reality of the situation for you and surface the understanding of the deeper situation.
For example, you get to
- Explore what is really telling you have an issue or a cause for concern
- What you already have and are doing well
- What relevant experience, resources, skills or knowledge you have that can help you in the current situation
- Identify what’s missing
- Pinpoint what obstacles you’re facing that are preventing you from reaching your goal
4. Explore your options
This a really fun part of coaching, where you get to brainstorm all sorts of all options and ideas.
You are also encouraged to challenge yourself to think of alternatives you may not have considered so far. You get to see new perspectives and possibilities that you haven’t seen before.
This when you get to be super creative and come up with a wide range of ideas. Some might be scary. Some might be exciting. Some might be incredible. Some you might ever do.
Once you have exhausted all your ideas, your coach will ask you questions to help you look at your list more critically and rank your ideas in different ways.
5. Finalise & agree your actions
The penultimate part of the coaching process is to shape the way forward and what you are going to commit to doing.
In this section, you review your goal, see if anything needs tweaking.
You look at all the ideas that you’ve brainstormed and pick the options you’re actually going to put into practice.
One of the common mistake people tend to make is to pick too big parts. So your coach will work with you to make sure that you’re splitting these into specific manageable action steps. You will write down all the little things that need to happen.
You will agree on realistic timelines and timeframes.
A good coach will also check in on your commitment, motivation and excitement to take action. Plus, they will help you come up with a backup plan if something gets in the way.
To wrap up the session, you will summarise what has been agreed.
You will also briefly share your key learnings and insights from the coaching session.
The coach will manage the timing of the session and ensure you gain full value from it.
The key thing to remember is that the most important role of a Life Coach or a Personal Performance Coach is to help their clients to unlock their potential, maximise their performance and achieve their desired results.
Who else will know what has been said?
A coaching session is completely confidential. Professional accredited coaches who have trained with reputable companies are required to agree and comply with a set of core values, ethical principles and ethical standards of behaviour. (For example, here is the Coaching Code of Ethics that I follow.)
Only in extreme circumstances will this confidence be breached. This includes the intent to cause harm to yourself or others or criminal acts.
8. How to best prepare for a coaching session?
To make sure that your time is being well spent with your coach you are expected to come to the session fully prepared and with a goal or aspiration in mind that you would like to work towards.
Preparation is very important for the coaching session so you are encouraged to spend 15 minutes prior to the session taking yourself to an environment where you will not be disturbed, with a drink and feeling refreshed and relaxed prior to the start of the session.
You will also need to ensure that you have a pen and paper handy and any other items that you may think will be useful, such as a diary.
9. Do you pass the Ready, Willing, & Able to be coached Test?
Answer truthfully the questions below:
|Are you READY to be coached?||YES||NO|
|I have time to invest in myself|
|I can make and keep appointments with myself to work on my goals|
|There is a gap between where I am now and where I want to be|
|Are you WILLING to be coached?||YES||NO|
|I am fully willing to do the work required to get me where I want to be|
|I am willing to stop or change the behaviours that limit my success|
|I am willing to try new things even if I am not 100% convinced they will |
|Are you ABLE to be coached?||YES||NO|
|Coaching is the appropriate discipline for the changes I want to make|
|I have the support I need to make significant changes in my life|
|I have the patience to take consistent action towards my goals, |
regardless of how immediate the results are
If you have answered ‘No’ to two of more of these questions, you will need to make adjustments before the coaching can be effective.
I want to start coaching. What do I do next?
The next step is to define what you would like to achieve from coaching and explore who the best coach will be to help you accomplish your ambitions.
The coaching industry is incredibly versatile and there are so many niches and specialities that can’t be covered in a single blog post.
Some life coaches specialise in helping their clients in a specific area e.g. relationships, lifestyle, career, confidence etc while others are cover all areas of life.
Additionally, there are coaches who focus on helping clients who have a particular background e.g. corporate, NGOs, small business owners or specific common traits or gender.
Want to explore if we’d work well together?
Hi, I’m Mira Rutter!
I specialise in working with women who started their service-based business because they imagined they’d have a better lifestyle doing work they love, but along the way of building their online business, they’ve lost track of what they wanted in the first place.
What lights a fire in my belly is coaching female entrepreneurs to discover who they truly are, connect with what’s important to them and tap into their natural feminine wisdom so that they can finally run their business and lead their life on their terms with ease, fun and flow.
Having worked with hundreds of online service providers and being one myself, I understand the challenges and frustrations that women go through with juggling an online business and their personal life.
The knowledge, skills and experiences accumulated over the years, led me to create my unique female-centric five-pillar coaching methodology (The VIP Alignment Method) that is fully aligned with you, so you can finally build the business and lead the life you imagined with more ease and less stress.
If this sounds like something that you’d like to explore, you can book a complimentary, no-obligation, consultation to discuss what you’d like to achieve and find out if we’re an amazing fit to work together.