.banner-thumbnail-wrapper { display:none; }

What is a Life Coach? My Response to Everyone Who (And Understandably So) Questions the Validity of this Profession

This week I had a very real conversation with my sister’s fiancé. He’s someone who I already consider as part of the family and that I look up to as a brother. He legitimately wants what’s best for me and completely believes in what I am capable of and truly has my back (sometimes even during arguments or disagreements with my sister). He is incredibly bright, responsible, forward-thinking and calculated, which lends itself quite well to someone who (on occasion) jumps the gun, takes risks and has been known to act before completely thinking things through - which both my dear sister and him could point out to you that I do, quite often. Unlike others, I wouldn’t necessarily consider that a bad thing. I attribute a lot of my opportunities and success in life to taking risks and listening to my heart over my head. An approach not always agreed upon amongst my family members - but that's another story for another day.

Recently while I was in town visiting the two of them he inquired, “So, if I was to actually market your profession to others, what is it that you even do?” We went back and forth a bit as to what the process is and how I help the clients I work with. He had a number of questions, a series of valid points and then finally (in the least offensive way possible but just out of genuine curiosity) he noted, “To be honest, I had never heard of the life coaching industry before I was aware that you were doing it - and even then, when I hear the words "life-coaching" I immediately think to myself, that sounds like the career choice someone would decide to take in high school when they don't know what else to do.”

Love his honesty. And as mentioned, his very pragmatic, responsible and calculated approach towards life and specifically, something as important as your career. As a family member who cares and who's gifted mind naturally wanders towards new ways of thinking and how to strategically improve upon any given situation, we then had a 30 minute conversation about how I can further my reach, discussed new business approaches, marketing and sales tactics and other opportunities to get my message out in to the world. I left the conversation feeling energized and ready to apply some new strategies towards my business, and also left thinking this would make a great blog post to share with others who still don’t know what the heck a coach is, and what they can do for others.

He is definitely not the first and with certainty, will not be the last person to add to the extensive list of questions I’ve received regarding the validity of my new career choice and the coaching industry as a whole. To name a few: Is this for real? Is this just a phase? Did you just make up that career? Is there a governing body that actually sets measurable standards? Can just anyone be a coach? You actually went to school for that? There are actual schools for that? How could someone like you (at 27 years old), help someone like me? What do you know about helping people live better lives? How are you in a position to tell me how or why I should change my life? 

So, I thought this would be a great opportunity to share what coaching is, how it could benefit you and specific characteristics and traits that my incredible and inspiring clients share, who have been drawn to my style of coaching. 

What the heck is life coaching?

Life Coaching draws upon a variety of techniques from disciplines such as psychology, sociology, social work, personal development and career development to assist people in creating change in their lives; moving them from where they are, to where they want to be. Coaching helps people think and behave differently; consciously learning what is best for them and the life they want to live. Through motivation, education and accountability, coaching helps people make lasting changes that improve their life as a whole. 

I am an internationally recognized coach trained through the Beautiful You Coaching Academy, (to answer your question about the validity of the course, it IS an ICF Approved Education Provider. The ICF (International Coach Federation) are the global leaders of coach education and do not certify just any course. It must meet high level standards relating to content, ethics, materials and qualifications of trainers and support staff.  

As a coach trained through the BYCA, I practice under a number of incredibly important principles:

Focus on self - You drive the relationship, you set the agenda, you make your own decisions. Your personal growth, regardless of the goals you have set for yourself, is paramount.

Empowered growth and learning - My role is to support you to a greater level of awareness and empowerment through the provision of a safe coaching space, powerful questions and positive feedback.

Solutions-focused - Together, we will seek solutions to, not the causes or reasons, behind a problem or issue. I'll support you to set your sights not on what has occurred in the past or even the 'why' of where you currently are, but to focus on the place you want to be.

Challenge - You'll be stretched. You'll be challenged. You'll grow. And as you grow, you'll move towards the person you most want to be. 

Encouragement - You'll be coached in a safe space of growth where positive feedback, encouragement and ongoing empowerment is given.

Accountability - I have a no B.S. approach. I’ll hold you accountable to daily and weekly actions as well as milestone steps.

Process - An organized, systematic and goal-oriented coaching model is utilized to give you the very best chance to achieve what you most want. 

To answer my future brother-in-law’s very legitimate (and quite often thought about but rarely openly-discussed) questions, “What is it that you can do that a therapist can’t? Are you just a less expensive (and less educated) version of a shrink or counsellor?  Is it just less embarrassing for people to say, “I’m seeing a coach” vs. “I’m seeing a counsellor?” Total legit questions.

Here's how we differ:

I am not educated as a counsellor or a therapist, but I have an incredible amount of respect and admiration for what those professions do for the world. Though I think there are similarities, I do believe there is a distinct difference. Coaching provides a service that helps clients work on their goals and assists in creating change in their lives. Moving them from where they are, to where they want to be. From what I have learned, counsellors spend more time examining a patient's history or past, looking for solutions to emotional struggles and/or ways to resolve their pain. But I have found that there are many people (and I consider myself to be one of them) who may not have experienced trauma (or may have, and who feel that their pain has been healed or resolved) and are instead, in a phase where they feel unmotivated or that they aren't reaching full potential. They may not require emotional healing of any sort, instead, they just need a little motivation, guidance and support with where and how to start new and exciting life changes. I think coaching can offer a positive and holistic approach for people transitioning through major life adjustments, changes and personal challenges. Another key difference are the relationships that I establish with clients are considered more "team-work" rather than a “doctor-patient” approach.

I will be the first to tell you that I am not (nor do I claim to be) educated or in the position to take on clients who, in my opinion, have serious mental/emotional concerns — such as substance abuse, severe depression or suicidal thoughts or tendencies. Some of my clients have faced those challenges in the past and are now at a stage where they feel those challenges have been resolved and that they are genuinely ready to take action towards creating the life they've always wanted. If I suspect serious mental/emotional concerns, I refer the client to an appropriate mental health professional. There have also been circumstances where I have worked with clients who, while working with me, simultaneously worked with a counsellor, and have achieved the incredible results they were hoping for. 

I think there is an amazing trend emerging of people who are becoming more self-aware and are placing more of an emphasis on health and wellness. I think in today's incredibly fast-paced society, driven, motivated and high achieving people are experiencing chronic stress and anxiety on a day-to-day basis, and are becoming increasingly interested in exploring the importance and practice of self-care. I believe people are looking for a preventative and positive platform with which they can hold themselves to a higher standard and genuinely are ready to start taking action towards becoming the healthiest, happiest and best version of themselves. A platform that, (outside of the self-help section in your local bookstore) I believe the coaching industry provides.

If you are like my exceptionally astute and ever-inquisitive future brother-in-law and still have more questions, I have included what I have started to see as a growing trend, or a few similar characteristics of the incredible and inspiring women that reach out to work with me.

1. My clients want more out of life. (And know deep-down, that "more" is 100% possible.)

My clients want (and know they are meant for) a happier, healthier and more enjoyable life. They have become aware that they are not living out their days on this planet to their fullest potential or capability. Their life might already be good in all areas: good job, good lifestyle, good relationships, good wellness routines… but they’re tired of good, they want great, and they want to start making the necessary changes, immediately.

2. My clients are those going through major transitions and ready to (once and for all) leave negative habits, old thought-patterns and limiting beliefs in the past. 

Through working with me, some of my clients have gone on to quit a job they found unenjoyable or that lacked meaning and fulfillment, they found courage and confidence to switch to new positions or industries that provided happiness and purpose that they didn't know possible. I've worked with clients who quit their jobs to travel the world, start blogs, launch their own websites and started their own businesses. Some of them decided they were no longer going to maintain negative and toxic friendships (even ones they've had for the majority of their lives) Some have altered their lifestyles, learned to prioritize themselves, made time for healthier habits, self-care routines and removed habits that didn’t serve them. I have had clients who have previously in their lives struggled with eating disorders, addictions and self-loathing tendencies and reached out to me after they felt they had healed and were ready to begin creating the incredible and extraordinary lives they were meant to live. (And they inspire the heck out of me every single day). I have seen my clients grow and change by beginning to raise their standards to a higher level and continuing to step out of their comfort zones on a daily basis. I am constantly reminded of the incredible things we are all capable of achieving, when we give ourselves the permission to go for them.  

3. My clients are ready (REALLY ready) to do the work. 

I had a call with my business coach this morning and when asked what I love about working with my clients I said without any hesitancy, the way they light up when they realize the life they always dreamt of having, is suddenly a real possibility. What I absolutely love about each and every one of my clients is that they know to see results, you have to do the work. It is wildly terrifying to open up, be vulnerable and share your fears and weaknesses with a complete stranger (trust me, I know), and I am constantly in awe of how brave and courageous each one of them is when they step up and commit to making those changes - which most of the time are outside of their comfort zone. Everyone has incredible ideas and a beautiful image of what their dream life would look like, but very few people in the world are willing to put in the effort to make it happen. A friend of mine (who runs a very successful tech company at an extremely young age) once shared with me, “the ideas are the easy part. Anyone can have a million dollar idea, it’s the execution stage where people fail.” The second a client reaches out and commits to working with me, I am over-the-moon ecstatic for them. It means they gave themselves the permission (whether they feel ready to or not, and I’ve learned you rarely feel ready for massive change) to start taking action towards living their fullest life. 

One of my favourite questions that I have received from my own family, close friends and complete random strangers is: “There seems to be a growing trend of these “life coaches” in the world. Aren’t you concerned that the market is getting too saturated, and that this is just becoming one of those fads that everyone seems to be turning to when they don’t know what else to do?”

You wouldn’t ask that question to an accountant, to a lawyer or a dentist. You would never say to any of them that they are in an "over-saturated" market and to rethink their decision. Coaching, at the end of the day, is all about believing in the capability and the potential of others, and inspiring them to reach that capability and live their fullest life (whatever that life looks like, to them). And I don't believe the world could ever have too many of those. 

Did you like this post or know of anyone that might be interested in learning more about (or working with) a coach? Then please share! And if you are interested in further exploring what it would be like to work with me, click here to learn more about my different programs.