Life coaching as a profession was never on my career radar.

I didn’t even realise life coaching was a full-fledged profession until I had to conduct some in 2017.

I had to do life coaching as a practical assignment as part of the Inspired Leadership sequence of courses that I was studying in my Leadership and Management concentration.

I had to reach out to a random selection of individuals I had not met before and then coach them through a transition in their lives.

 

I didn’t expect much from my initial experience of coaching others, I was doing it purely so I could complete my assignments.

However, what shocked me about the process of coaching others is how easily I took to it!

I also found the process a surprisingly fulfilling experience, for them and for me.

Turns out that those many years of self-coaching myself had greatly benefitted my ability to be a very natural life coach.

I received much favourable feedback from my first batch of clients. I also got a few referrals and a couple of clients even said they wanted to continue receiving coaching from me.

So I made the very easy decision to carry on coaching, both as an additional source of income and as a practical element of my MTA Portfolio.

I continued to life coach on the side since then.

Then I stopped at the beginning of 2020 so I could focus on cultivating my web design skills and getting my websites built, but I started back up again at the beginning of 2021.

My approach to coaching is always a silent one.

Silent.

If you take the letters from the word ‘silent’ and rearrange them, you end up with ‘listen’.

Listen.

Listening is a key part of my coaching process.

I always start with the other person, actively listen to them and let their personality and temperament and desires lead the way in which I go about coaching them.

It sounds obvious, but it is amazing the amount of people who have not cultivated the ability to actively listen to others, move beyond your own preconceptions and take on board what they are saying.

My coaching process is a hybrid of what I have learned from my self-coaching and from what I have learned from my Leadership and Management studies.

I know how to go about coaching myself, but the way I coach myself may not be the best way to coach someone else. and I can only figure out the best way of coaching them once I start listening to them.

My life coaching is not about fixing people.

My coaching is about empowering my clients to be able to take charge of their own lives and destiny.

My end goal is to teach individuals how to self-coach themselves.

Interact, Ideate and Innovate

The life coaching process I have developed is not overly complicated.

I always begin by having a session that is devoted to getting to know my client. 

It’s completely confidential and, unless the client wants otherwise, I oberate on a session-by-session basis. 

Ideally, I would always do my initial coaching in-person because there is always so much more information you can gauge from an in-persona interaction and all the body language that is involved. 

However, since COVID_19 I have been doing all my sessions over skype. 

In the first session, I Iet the client tell me anything and everything. Ocassionally, I will jump in with a question to ensure we cover all the areas related to the positive change they want to bring about through my coaching and so I can build up a picture of their personality and lifestyle.

Throughout all this, I take lots of notes that I build up into a big mindmap of the client and their positive change. This mindmap also comes in handy later when I need to jog my memory and helps to me focused on the coahcing the client towards their positive change. 

Then once I feel that I have a good picture of the client and they feel they had said everything they want to say, I move the coaching onto the idea generation stage where we figure out a tangible way in which the client can achieve their positive change that fits with their lifestyle.

Build, Experiment and Grow

The next phase of my coaching involves taking everything my client has told me – about their personality, their lifestyle, their positive change – and making it work as a plan of action. 

The most common positive change I encounter in my life coaching is career development – my clients either want to change their job or career. 

Quite often, the steps required for the client to take to change their job or career are not as simple as they first envisioned, either because they are lacking key skills/experience in their professional portfolio or they lack the professional network necessary for getting their foot in the door.

This is where the client needs to start thinking outside of the box and start stepping outside of their comfort zone in order to acquire the necessary skills and contacts… and this is where I quite often encounter a lot of resistance.

Firstly, acquiring these additional skills and contacts means the overall process will take much longer than the client had originally envisioned and, secondly, the client quite often does not want to step outside of thier comfort zone precisely because it makes them feel uncomfortable. 

So this is where the serious life coaching begins because I have to assist the client through this uncomfortable process, step-by-step and session-by-session. 

As I have discovered from my self-coaching, the key to getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is consistent habit formation that alters your overall mindset. This is my main focus of coaching when getting the client comfortble with being uncomfortable, I break their goals down into bitesize tasks and work with them to complete each task.

Overall, the time scale of this part of the coaching process varies depending on the type of positive change the client wants to enact and how comfortable they already are with bringing it about.

But the more work the clients puts in, the sooner the results show up.

 

Repeat, Improve and Improvise… Until You Win!

Results do not always show up straight away; in fact, they rarely ever do!

This is the most trying part of the positive change and coaching process… in order to see results the client has to stick with it.

If the client is trying to change their job or career and one means of acquiring the necessary skills or professional contacts didn’t work, then we need to figure out why it did not work and put together a new plan of action.

This is why it is so important for the client to remain open-minded about the life coaching process and why it is also vitally important for me to employ coaching that keeps them open-minded about the process. 

One of the best coaching tools I have gained from my studies is the concept of the PEA or Positive Emotional Attractor.

Whenever a client becomes pessimistic about the chances of achieving their positive change, I remind them about their previous wins or, even better, I get them to remind me about their previous wins.

Just by reliving the experience of that previous positive outcome it keeps the client’s mind in a positive frame of mind and when our minds are optimistic, they remain open, but when they’re pessimistic, they close themselves off.

A key part of the accountability involved in the coaching process is not just down to the client completing the necessary tasks, it also involves the client maintaining a positive outlook. 

Fundamentally, that is where my self-coaching differs from my coaching of others.

I won’t go so far as to say that I am overly negative on myself, but I am extremely hard on myself… I take all the pain and the anger and churn it into willpower and push myself through thick and thin to achieve my goals, while also maintaining a positive outlook in my head.

I’ve come to learn that this exact same process does not work with other people. They often perceive it as being  too negative and get quite defensive towards it, which is of course the wrong headspace for them to occupy.

Therefore, how I go about motivating other people involves a great deal more time, patience, support and empathy… and this is, by far, the biggest lesson I have learned from my Leadership and Management studies and all the coaching I have done alongside it – it’s the intricate finesse of coaching other people.

The client is not the only one who wants to see quick results, I want to see them achieve quick results too as well; hence why my default desire is to utilise my self-coaching approach of throwing myself in at the deep end and fight to keep my head above the water until I finally learn how to swim properly… but, again, most people require a more “softly, softly” approach

The fact that most of my coaching clients up until this point have been females has immensely helped me in slowing down my desire to see results and work much more empathetically and on an even keel with my clients.

Studying negotiation and conflict resolution has also been hugely invaluable in this respect… it’s all about finding a common ground that you can build on, which again goes back to my original point of why I value listening so much in my coaching process.