Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Life Coaching....What's it all about?

Life and career coaching never appealed to me and I may have even mocked it a few times when it was brought up over cocktail hour. But, after doing some reading about it, in a time of my life when I continue to seek clarity and perfection (please note: my version of perfection is very different than most, I thought it would be worth taking a closer look.

First off, I wanted to know what to expect when working with a life coach. My life does not necessarily need coaching, although the idea of having an educated cheering team on my sidelines is appealing. I've always used my amazing support system (including friends, family and my professional network) for advice and guidance, which is what I'm guessing is the basis for life coaching.

So, I did some digging online and found 'Tips for choosing a life coach' from Life-coach.net. In their words, "You will know (life coaching works for you) because your motivation, clarity and overall well-being will improve and within a few sessions. You will feel relaxed and comfortable with your coach. You will feel you can be open and honest and see them as the same."

Well, I'm not sure who would turn down an offer so sweet. But, I've been a consumer for 25 years, as well as being a PR and marketing professional for 10 years so I suppose I know better than to focus on the positive words in a sales pitch. So, I decided to dig a bit deeper and interview some potential coaches who wanted to, "improve my overall well-being."

I started by interviewing three different coaches including one with Meredith Haberfeld Coaching, who gave me the best information (which is why I'd prefer to focus on our conversation than drag you through two boring sales pitches I heard from the other candidates). So, the coach from Meredith H. Coaching, who I'll leave nameless for now did a beautiful job summarizing who a life coach does and who the best candidates for life coaching are.

Based on my conversations a life coach can act as good cross between a friend, a therapist, a cheerleader and a guidance councilor. Through asking the right questions, placing emphasis in the right areas, motivating clients to narrow down their focus and take a hard look at what they need in life - they get their clients "on track." I'm not to sure I ever fell off-track, but I like the idea.

The Meredith H. coach also made a good point about how coaching is broken down. While life coaches are willing to focus on client's trouble-areas, it's all to common to find that one troubled area is simply a product of another problem (ripple effect). So, most of them take a holistic approach to life coaching, and open up the discussion to all aspects of your life.

I interviewed two other coaches I interviewed with a series of 5 questions:

What can your clients expect when working with you?
Do you focus on specific aspects of a clients life, or the "whole ball of wax?"
How long is each session? How many sessions would you recommend for someone like me?
How to you measure results?
What kind of financial and time requirement do you expect?

Both of the other coaches I spoke with were certainly qualified but didn't spark any thought on my part. They both answered the questions asked with one-sentences responses and didn't ask me any questions that I wouldn't expect from my local bartender.

I'll continue to think through the process of taking on a life coach and decide if it's right for me. What do you think of the process and profession?

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