When I meet new people and tell them that I do life coaching, every once in a while, someone voices the opinion that I get paid rather well just to have a ‘nice chat.’
They totally miss the point that during a coaching conversation, I’m actually bringing my full attention, focus and skill to bear. Additionally, most people I’ve met are reasonably uninformed about what those skills might be.
As someone who trains coaches, what bothers me most is the suggestion that reading a book on coaching is as good as having a life coach. It isn’t.
In my opinion, the whole ‘little life coach in your pocket’ turn of mind is sloppy thinking disguised as convenience and self-sufficiency. And it sells really well.
Several years ago, I participated in an international survey about coaching. Coaching clients were also part of the survey and the findings revealed several key facts.
Firstly, life coaches were most valued as a sounding board for their clients. As human beings we’re designed to work best around people, in that many of our thought processes are focused purely on interaction. We talk, share new information and bounce ideas off each other.
It’s difficult to bounce ideas off yourself, as the whole point of the process is to reinterpret the same information through different filters, in comparison with a different set of reference experiences and feed back the result. It’s fairly obvious then that anyone who suggests that such perspective can be achieved through a simple step-by-step written process is kidding themselves.
Another key characteristic of an effective coach is that they make you aware of your own ‘blind spots.’ While you’ve probably heard the term, I define a blind spot as something that other people know about you that you don’t know about yourself. It takes a lot of awareness and skill in directing the ‘conversation’ to knowledge of the blind spot or
sensitivity in delivering the news. You can’t do it yourself by the very definition of the term and a book will not change that.
A further important feature of the coaching process is…
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