What the Heck is Coaching Anyway?

Outside of the sports industry, most people, particularly in North America, are unfamiliar with coaching as a helping profession. The purpose of this article is to introduce / reinforce what coaching is and the role coaches play in helping people to find more value in their life.

Coaching is defined by its governing organization, the International Coaching Federation (ICF), as, “an ongoing partnership that helps clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives”. Through the process of coaching, clients deepen their learning, improve their performance, and enhance their quality of life.

In each meeting, the client chooses the focus of conversation, while the coach listens and contributes observations and questions. This interaction creates clarity and moves the client into action. Coaching accelerates the client’s progress by providing greater focus and awareness of choice. Coaching concentrates on where clients are today and what they are willing to do to get where they want to be tomorrow.

Phil Jackson coached Michael Jordan to help him to realize Michael’s athletic potential and, thereby, achieve extraordinary results that were consistent with his goals. Phil provided Michael with the edge that allowed him to reach beyond his own limitations. His job was to provide Michael with an outside perspective and keep him focused on his goals. Well, that’s what we coaches do for those who seek a better life in their career, in business, improved health, better relationships, etc. Our task is to point out the things our clients can’t see and offer them ideas on how they can improve their performance. At the same time we are motivating our clients to do their best. We challenge our clients to go beyond where they would normally stop. We help them to tap into their greatness allowing them to share it with the world.

Much of the coach’s efforts are fueled by their belief that individuals are intelligent, gifted, resourceful and possess great levels of integrity and conviction. While clients may initially appear to be clueless about how to get from where they are to where they want to be, effective coaches view them as being the masters and creators of their destiny as opposed to being victims. Oftentimes, they’ve taken the harder road to success instead of just deciding who they want to be or what they want to have and then acting on that decision. My role as a career and life coach, for example, is to help my clients achieve their goals by working smarter not harder.

Through coaching, clients learn how to rid themselves of those things in their life that drain their energy and sabotage their success. My colleague and mentor, Cheri Baumann describes the process as, “Out with the old, non-effective clutter, and in with new things that you want in your life.” Clients learn more about managing areas of their life like money and time in order to have the things they want to have. Additionally, clients learn to become more in tune with their needs as well as the needs of others. This allows them to broaden their network and influencers in ways that put them in greater alignment with their goals. It’s the client’s agenda, not the coach’s that’s most important at all times.

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