As a life coach, I operate from the central premise that the client has the answers they seek within themselves. Answers may be deeply buried or obscured (perhaps by fear), but they can be uncovered. Often, it just requires the right question.
In effect, a client (or coachee) is the expert on themselves. As their coach, it is my job to help them access the answers and believe in their own expertise. Together we create a synergy that will produce the results they seek.
But if the client is simply looking for someone with a magic wand to make everything they desire come true, coaching is not going to work. There are no short-cuts. Instead, there is an expansion of awareness and growth that comes from the process that can seem quite magical when it happens. Indeed, this is why I am a coach—helping people expand their consciousness is my life purpose.
But while a coach can bring all of her skill, experience, and a variety of tools to our partnership, the client must be ready and willing to do the work. Coaching is a partnership.
This is the crucial first step. The client has to be ready to engage—and be prepared to do the work to create the change they say they want. He will likely need to challenge himself to move beyond comfort zones, conduct some deep soul searching, and possibly make hard choices and sacrifices to move toward the desired outcome.
The first call is key to ensuring that what the client wants to focus on fits within the parameters of the coaching process. When coaching doesn’t work, it is usually because the client was not truly ready to make the necessary effort or move beyond the comfort of the known. Indeed, I’m rarely surprised when someone ends coaching prematurely.
Crafting the foundation
It is imperative to establish the focus of the work and determine the desired outcomes at the beginning. I coach the client to develop focus statements and list the desired outcomes for each focus area.
We work together to craft the statements so that when the client says them aloud their eyes light up and we know we have it; resonance. The outcome statements are written to capture what will occur when the focus is achieved. This is the fuel that will help propel them forward and help both client and coach measure achievement.
Building the partnership
In my coaching practice, the partnership is what makes the process work. There must be mutual trust and a sense of equality. I am their partner—not the authority, not the savior.
Together we each bring necessary ingredients to the table. They bring their willingness to do the work, to delve into areas that might be scary, to take regular action to move forward, and to push through inertia to keep going towards the goal. I bring my full attention to them and my skill set honed over many years. I listen “between the lines,” provide a gentle accountability, and ask the powerful questions that lead to insight.
Several years ago I had the good fortune to conduct an informational interview with a woman who said something that has become an intrinsic part of my personal philosophy and informs my work as a coach to this day. “I believe in the infinite capacity of people to grow and change.” In my work as a life coach, I look forward to building partnerships with clients that support their personal and professional growth.