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Issue 108

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In this issue ~~

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What Is a Life Coach . . . Really?

So, you're facing a challenging situation in your life, and boy, would some help and support be welcome. Your friends tell you that you should get a Life Coach, but you're not sure how much a coach could help. The sitcom you watched last night featured a character who was a Life Coach. She was flaky and silly and prided herself on telling her clients what to do. In another show, a character in a stressful situation had to call her Life Coach "guru" before she made a move. The last thing you need right now is a self-important, domineering busybody running your life.

Flaky guru types make great sitcom characters, but they're not accurate portrayals of what a Life Coach really is. As a 16-year veteran Life Coach and trainer of coaches, I can tell you that the last thing a good, reputable coach does is take over their clients' lives. Unfortunately, anyone can call themselves a Life Coach, without any training or understanding of how to help people without taking away their power.

If you're considering working with a Life Coach, I'd like to offer you a few guidelines to help you choose someone who's competent and reputable.

A Life Coach does/is not . . .

  • A guru, advisor, fairy godmother/father or authority on your life
  • Have an agenda for you or tell you what to do
  • Do the work for you
  • Inflate their ego through your successes
  • Push you to resolve your issues in the way that worked for them
  • Use their clients for their own benefit, such as forcing you to buy their products
  • Create a dependency
  • Do therapy with you to resolve childhood issues or traumas

A Life Coach does/is . . .

  • A partner who helps you explore situations and find your own resolutions
  • Help you clarify each situation and come up with powerful steps that you will take yourself
  • Support you on your agenda
  • Celebrate your successes
  • Help you clarify your own best strategies
  • Follow a Code of Ethics regarding professional behavior
  • Teach you how to think for yourself
  • Help you to see yourself and your issues in a new light and move forward in your life

How to Choose a Coach

Coaching is certainly a "buyer beware" situation. As with any profession, even a well-credentialed professional may not be the right person for you. If you're choosing a coach, find several coaches through recommendations and Internet searches.

Contact the ones that appeal to you and set up introductory sessions to make sure that the person feels good to you and that you like their style of coaching. You should feel comfortable with them. You should feel unconditionally supported and trust that you can share personal information without being judged, and knowing that anything you share will be confidential.

Check the person's credibility. Nowadays, most professional coaches have earned a certification from their training school or a certifying body such as the International Coach Federation or the Center for Credentialing and Education. What's most important, though, is that the coach has hands-on training, and hasn't just read a couple of books. They should be trained in coach-specific skills and understand the difference between coaching, consulting and counseling.

Coaches also have areas of strength, and while a good coach can support you on any issue, we all have our "sweet spots," based on our experience and training. (For example, two of my "sweet spots" are Career Coaching and Creativity Coaching.) Find someone who you feel gets you and your issues.

Finally, when choosing a coach, don't start with pricing. There are many variables in choosing a coach, including compatibility, experience, coaching specialties, etc. The length of your sessions and frequency will vary. Keep in mind that a good coach can accomplish a tremendous amount in 30 minutes, so think value, rather than time. Do your research, and then see who also fits your needs and your budget.

Life coaching has caught on like wildfire in the last decade, and for a good reason: It's a great way to get support, cut through confusion and move ahead more quickly in your life when therapy is not what you need. There's a coach out there for every need and budget. Do your homework, find someone who feels right and fits your criteria, and then engage 100% in this powerful relationship. Like many others who have sought out a Life Coach, you'll see miracles in your life!

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Action Challenge

If you're struggling with a personal or career issue, who could you reach out to for support? This week, make at least one phone call to someone in your life or a professional who could help you.

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Wise Words

"Time and money spent in helping men to do more for themselves is far better than mere giving."

~ Henry Ford

"If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to become better than they are."

~ John W. Gardner

"The greatest thing about man is his ability to transcend himself, his ancestry and his environment and to become what he dreams of being."

~ Tully C. Knoles

"It's exhilarating to be alive in a time of awakening consciousness; it can also be confusing, disorienting, and painful."

~ Adrienne Rich

"A life coach does for the rest of your life what a personal trainer does for your health and fitness."

~ Elaine MacDonald

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Bookshelf

(click on the book to see a description at Amazon.com)

Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives . . . Karen Kimsey-House, et al

Sourcebook of Coaching History . . . Vikki G. Brock, PhD

Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide . . . Caroline Adams Miller, MAPP

Coach Yourself to Success: 101 Tips from a Personal Coach for Reaching Your Goals at Work and in Life . . . Talane Miedaner

Character Makeover: 40 Days with a Life Coach to Create the Best You . . . Katherine Brazelton and Shelley Leith

Be Your Own Life Coach: How to Take Control of Your Life and Achieve Your Wildest Dreams . . . Fiona Harrold

Now What:? 90 Days to a New Life Direction . . . Laura Berman Fortgang

Becoming a Professional Life Coach: Lessons from the Institute of Life Coach Training . . . Patrick Williams and Diane S. Menendez


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© 2013 Sharon Good. All rights reserved.

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