Life coaching is a learning conversation in which your coach won’t tell you what to do, but will ask you to think.
‘Coaching is a learning conversation,’ says Trisha Lord, founder of Braveheart, an international leadership development and coaching company. ‘I often wonder why everyone – particularly those who can afford it – doesn’t have a coach? What assumptions, I wonder, are people making that cause them to deny themselves this gift? Do they even know it’s a gift?
What does the life-coaching journey entail?
“It sounds like therapy,” I’ve heard it said, and “people will think there’s something wrong with me”, “I don’t have time”, “it’s weak to need help” or “there’s nothing wrong with my life, what do I need a coach for?”
One analogy I’ve used during my 28-year coaching career is that of the Olympic athlete versus the ‘round-the-block jogger. If all you want to do with your life is to run around the block, then it might be useful to declare your intention to a good friend who will support you, but apart from that, you are good to go. If, however, you want your life to be more akin to winning a gold medal at the Olympics, then – get yourself a coach!
If you seek a sense of excellence, striving, accomplishment, stretch and challenge in your life, just like an Olympic athlete might have, then you are ready to enter the coaching journey, and you will have realised you are going to need the kind of committed support that you won’t get from your ‘round-the-block friend.
That friend, who calls to try to persuade you to obey your early-morning alarm clock, may well fall for your excuses: “Sjoe, you’ve no idea how much of a late night I had; the boss is working me so hard and my muscles are still sore from the run I did day before yesterday.” She puts down the phone and you turn over and go back to sleep.
What’s your first prize?
One of the key ingredients of a successful life coaching relationship is that your coach won’t put down the phone. She will listen with interest and with respect and then she will ask you to stare that excuse of yours in the face and see it for what it is: namely, that point you always get to when you turn back on your commitments and they become good intentions rather than accomplished goals.
Your coach won’t tell you what to do, but she will ask you to think. She will create an environment for you in which you get to face the assumptions that are running your life, often sending you in a direction that is opposite to the one you said you wanted to go in.
If she’s a good coach, she will continue to trust your intelligence, and your intentions, even when you have stopped trusting them yourself. She will hold the view that your mind, the one that contains the issues and challenges you’ve said you are facing, also contains the very best solutions to those issues and challenges, and, through her attention and her questions, she will help you to craft those solutions in ways that will leave you feeling most impressed with yourself!
If she’s a good coach you will experience a relationship of trust, of respect, of attention, of respectful challenge, a safe place in which you can be all of who you are and discover that it is more than enough for you to live a life of fulfilment, accomplishment and maybe even win that gold medal!
Life coaching is a learning conversation: and learning is the attitude we need to cultivate towards ourselves and our lives if we want to achieve mastery (there’s that gold medal again!). When asked what he thought about his achievements, Michaelangelo (who knew a thing or two about mastery) said. “I am still learning.”
It is a learning conversation with another person who is committed to the learning journey of life, and who will hold up a learning mirror so that you can see yourself, in action, in your life, and therefore keep learning. “To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person,” said Bruce Lee, someone else who clearly knew a thing or two about mastery.
So, I’d go back to the people I spoke of at the start, the ones who maybe don’t have a coach because it might look weak to need help, or because they don’t have the time, or because “nothing is wrong” with their lives, and I would ask them to consider the possibility that the world doesn’t need more mediocrity, it needs more gold. And, in order to create that gold, we need to give ourselves over to a learning journey with a companion who is committed and trained in the art of supporting mastery in others by being masterful in that art themselves.’
If the quest to unearth excellence is something that appeals to you, then you may wish to consider studying coaching at SACAP. SACAP has been training students in coaching, as an applied psychology, since 1997; and are renowned for their unique blend of rigorous theory, applied skills and experiential workplace internships. What’s more, they offer part-time and full-time courses, as well as distance learning options. For more information, enquire now.