Many are familiar with recovery coaching–people who help others beat addiction. You've likely heard of, or possibly even experienced a professional coach–someone who helps you in your career. But coaching in other specific areas of life, marriage and relationships, parenting teens, children with autism, to name a few, is becoming more common. Working with a certified coach or mentor can be a great idea. People who collaborate with someone (a mentor) are typically more successful than people who attempt everything alone. This is because one imparts wisdom and encouragement to another when change and growth is needed. A successful coach is someone who knows about the wisdom of making changes, and helping others create change and improvement in behavior, attitudes, thoughts, and ultimately lives.
Coaching or mentoring, in its purest form, instead of creating dependency on the mentor, strengthens, promotes, and empowers those who are coached so they develop a stronger sense of personal power, confidence, health, well-being, and individuality. The stronger and more competent people become, the better and more fully they live their lives. A great coach strives for true rewards of coaching–when those being coached become the version of themselves they want to become.
Coaching or mentoring to improve human behavior deserves to be considered a behavioral science, and, in its way and for its purposes, it is very effective. In some instances, it will be more effective than psychotherapy or education. Coaching is more focused, includes someone identified as an expert, is typically more brief and more concentrated, and is almost exclusively organized to move people along a developmental path to behavior that is more positive. Most life problems can be improved with the support of a well-trained certified coach. However, some issues are more intense, and professionals with advanced education and the ability to diagnose clearly are needed. And some people simply want to go directly to the experts to get help.
In the coaching world, however, many people are learning about “Certified Life Coaches,” where one person is involved in helping others with general motivation and life training. This includes helping people feel more powerful, facing challenges with more confidence, achieving elusive goals, fulfilling unfulfilled potential, and finally doing something they may have wanted to do for a long time. But what should you look for when considering a certified life coach? Typically, there are five key elements in the coaching process that any genuine, reliable, certified coach should possess. To help you identify these elements in a coach, consider how coaches are instructed. Read this excerpt from a certified coach training program. Read it as a sort of checklist. If these five elements are possessed and used by your coach, you are in good hands. If you don't, yet, have a coach, ask questions about these elements and gauge their response.
(1) competence about specific domains of performance or learning
(2) competence in methods designed to produce change and growth.
A Clear Process:
(3) defining direction and asserting success,
(4) professionalism, competence, and firmness, and
(5) authenticating yourself by going right to work.
What do you think is the best thing to do as a life and specialty coach to help people solve problems and be more successful? Is it to be so knowledgeable that you can tell
someone what he or she should do to succeed and be confident you are right? Or is it to ask questions to understand the individual’s concerns and then invite this person to examine his or her own thoughts, talents, feelings, and skills to solve the problem and find success? You might think that telling or suggesting is the most efficient and therefore the best course of action. Or you might conclude that asking a person to search within is the correct answer. There is an important place for both alternatives because neither is sufficient alone. However, the right combination of the two alternatives and the timing of both is crucial.
We call this combination “defining direction and asserting success” because it is a communicational event that is pivotal to the success of the coaching process. This is when you invite the client to identify many different parts of his or her definition of success.
Most people move quickly to find a solution or get something done right away before they have taken time to identify the direction they want to go and have clearly identified the preferred outcome or the nature of success. For example, some people recovering from joint replacement surgery have an exercise regimen to follow. They may think that doing the exercises until they get full movement is all they want. But most of the time, there are other things that are part of success that are as important as the rehabilitation. These include increased confidence, satisfaction with achievement, an expanded life experience made possible by recovery, better relationships, etc.
When you take the time to discover the direction you want to take a client and assert success, you will find more than one desired outcome, and what you will learn are the sources of motivation you can use to help each person.
You must communicate very early that you are competent and confident in your ability to mentor and coach. This begins in your own mind first, improves with experience, and then becomes part of your professional demeanor—a calm approach going about your work, learning about the person, and describing what you believe is possible is how professionals communicate. Excessive claims are inappropriate and harmful. Dishonesty, of course, is not allowed, and excessive friendliness will make you suspect.
To a potential or new client, extend an invitation to ask questions about your background and training. Quite often they will decline, but some will want to know about you. A brief description of your training background will be sufficient, but your authenticity as a mentor or coach is best demonstrated when you get right to work by asking questions to inform yourself and learn what your clients want. Doing this warmly with some empathy will enable them to speak more freely about what they wish to achieve, why they think they have difficulty achieving it, and what they want to accomplish.
At the end of the day you want to work with someone with whom you feel comfortable, who challenges you, and who helps you reach your goals.
If you are looking for support in a particular area of your life–marriage, parenting a teen, or being a single parent, for example, click here to learn about these trained and qualified coaches.