When you hear the term, maybe Tony Robbins, one of the most visible “Life & Business Strategists” comes to mind. Or perhaps one of a hundred authors or self-development book titles pops into your head.
Yes, the term “life coach” is definitely starting to saturate.
After all, everyday people are starting to realize that they can have their very own coaches (as in, coaches are not only for the rich, famous or entitled anymore) and hoards of freedom-seeking, spiritual gangsters and early retirees with tons of life still left in them have discovered how fabulous the job really is (I read that it’s the second growing profession in the world).
So what the heck is a life coach? And what do they do?
Before I jump in, I must state that I am going to explain what a trained, responsible, ethical life coach is, as defined by the huge governing body that advocates for the highest standards in coaching.
There are hundreds, no, thousands of people who claim they are coaches – and they are – however, operating from a different set of standards. Which I will also explain.
The first: A professional life coach is a service provider, not unlike a therapist or physiotherapist, who works with clients to make a positive change in their life or business.
Usually these changes are proactive ones; things that will move the person forward – becoming more productive, improving relationships, being a better leader, growing a business, coping with difficult problems, etc. Changes that take the client from their current state to their desired state.
Therapy also works to empower people through change, but a therapist typically looks through the person’s past traumas, seeks to diagnose and works to fix the problem over a very long time.
Life coaching works on the person as a whole – not on individual problems. The process (which is also done in a conversation-like setting) enables this person to rise to any occasion, gain confidence and actually solve their own problems.
It works to build up the person and inspire motivation by focusing on their strengths and values. It works to remove blocks and mental barriers; to break patterns and create new patterns; and to give people a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
So what does life coaching look like – what should I expect?
Life coaching (aka executive coaching, transformation coaching, often career coaching, etc) is done through conversation, and often incorporates insightful tools like exercises, brainstorming worksheets, workbooks, and questionnaires.
The coach meets with the client (or a group/team) either in person, online or by phone, for a specified amount of time on specified days. (I usually meet with my clients, online by Skype or Zoom, every one or two weeks for 1 hour).
This conversation is very strategic, thus why it takes a considerable amount of education, training and time to receive coaching accreditation. It’s based on asking questions to get the client to search within and come up with answers that work for them, aka client-led discovery. There are elements of discerning what the client is saying vs what they actually mean; listening for underlying issues; and offering different perspectives.
Of course, the coach uses their training and intuition to make the conversation flow naturally, and also to make the client feel very comfortable in getting to their deeper issues and saying them aloud. Through the process, a ton is learned about what motivates or holds back the client, and a plan of action is usually put in place to make their desired state become a reality.
Tell me more about this client-led discovery
One of the most important, distinguishing aspects of a trained coach and a self-proclaimed coach is that a professional coach mainly empowers their client through client-led discovery. Unlike a consultant or performance coach who’s is hired to literally tell the person what to do and say, a life/leadership coach trains hard to keep their own biased opinions out of the discovery.
After all, how on earth could a coach advise a CEO of a multi-national corporation one day and then counsel a person going through a hideous divorce the next? Because they focus on the person not the problem – that’s how! And they keep their biased opinions out of it!
That’s not to say that a professional coach doesn’t ever turn therapist (or friend, or trusted confidante) for a moment and offer a solution. It’s just that a coach is trained to know that giving advice and providing solutions are not the best way to facilitate client-led, aka more powerful, discovery. Very tactical questions are. Straight-up communication is. Holding up a mirror for the client is. You get the point.
(The process is similar to the discipline of the very powerful Socratic Method, one of, if not the oldest teaching tactic that gives students questions, not answers so they can learn to think and act for themselves. What a concept!)
Ok, I’m reading all this, but how does this help me?!
One of the greatest things a human being can have is …. support and connection from another human being. Encouragement, dependability, someone to talk to, someone to listen. Research even shows it’s equally important to have an outside person/mentor to confide in and turn to for direction.
A life/leadership/executive/transformation coach is basically a paid for, human form spirit guide, who’s mission is YOU.
YOU come up with what you want, YOU put it out into the universe, (yes, your subconscious will likely get in the way) and YOU actually take the real life action to make magic happen. But along the way, you’re supported, encouraged, championed, acknowledged and held accountable.
So whether you want to quit your job and travel the world for a living, greatly increase employee satisfaction in your company, repair your marriage, make more money, get in amazing physical shape, successfully pull off a new corporate venture, start your own business or become a more mindful and attentive parent, a life coach could help you.
How much does it cost?
The pricing for life coaching services varies widely. Unfortunately it’s not covered by any health plans or insurance plans (that I know of, as of August 2018). Depending on the service provider, billing may be upfront for services or invoiced monthly. Some coaches offer month-to-month sessions, while others offer “plans or packages” that specify an exact number of sessions in an exact amount of time. Some bill hourly, others by value or problem solved.
While insight can happen in an instant, real change does not happen overnight – and so many coaches will only agree to work with clients for a minimum amount of time. After all, as coaches, our main purpose is to offer amazing and impactful support and we only want to see our clients succeed. Again, the time varies, but a minimum of six months is common. Many master coaches work with clients for many years.
As for cost – expect anywhere from $100/hour and up, up, up.
A very experienced, executive coach costs anywhere from $250/hour all the way up to $1000s. I have seen coaches with about 3-5 years experience charge about $4000-6000 for six months of coaching and I have seen great coaches charge $1250 for six months. All depends. Group coaching is usually much more affordable and worth looking into depending on the “want”.
Well, how will I know what life coach to hire?
The most important thing about working with a coach is trust and some sort of connection and respect. You have to feel comfortable, not feel judged.
From there, look around, get referrals, read websites, check out Facebook pages and try to get a feel for a coach. Maybe you want someone sweet who reminds you of your grandma, perhaps you need someone who’s very action-oriented and no-nonsense. Maybe you would like someone who has experienced what you’re going through. Or someone who is successful, making money and living the dream.
Again, all your choice. Look around.
I’m intrigued to give it a try. How can I work with you?
Ah, I thought you’d never ask 😉 Like many coaches, I offer a no-strings attached, 30 minute discovery call (via Skype or Zoom video) so we can get to know each other a little and decide if we can make magic happen together.
These discovery calls are very important, especially if deciding to work with a newer coach (1-2 years experience) or someone you don’t know. In my limited experience, credentialed master coaches can be so effective, requiring less time overall to reach the desired state.
To schedule a 30-minute call with me, simply email me at [email protected] and we can take it from there.
Good luck and looking forward.