What is Professional Coaching?

The International Coach Federation (ICF) has defined professional coaching as follows:

“Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaching honors the client as the expert in his/her life and work and believes that every client is creative, resourceful, and whole.”

The Client-Coach Partnership

As a coach, you “partner” with your client in the most literal sense of the word. Yes, you know more “stuff” about your area of expertise. That’s fine and the way it’s supposed to be. But you don’t know more “stuff” about your client than he or she does. And so coaching only works when both parties form a genuine partnership built on mutual sharing, collaboration and cooperation. This is of particular importance and sometimes difficult to do when you think you have the solutions and answers for your client.

So what do professional coaches do? They provide an ongoing partnership that helps their clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Ultimately, coaches help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives.

And how do they do it? Coaches listen and customize their approach to individual client needs. They believe that their job is to support their client to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that they already have; the true embodiment of “empowerment.”

In short, coaches:

– Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve;
– Encourage client self-discovery;
– Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies; and
– Hold the client responsible and accountable for actions and results.

Basic Coaching Skills

As a therapist, counselor, educator or consultant you might need to know a lot about a problem- what causes it, strategies for treating it, etc. As a coach, believe it or not, you don’t need to be an expert in the focus of the coaching, you just need to apply your coaching skills expertly. For example, you don’t need to know how to build a house to coach a building contractor who wants to build better houses. Your client will teach you everything you need to know about their problem and solution as you are coaching them.

Here are 12 basic coaching skills that you’ll use and re-use with your clients:

1. Accountability; obtaining commitment to action items that your client chooses, and holding the client responsible for their results.
2. Accentuating the positive; highlighting strengths, cheerleading accomplishments, and helping your client stay optimistic and focused on goals and solutions.
3. Challenging; requesting that your client stretch beyond their self-imposed limits.
4. Clarifying; questioning, reframing, articulating what’s going on.
5. Designing the alliance; assisting your client to take responsibility by deciding the form of support most beneficial to them. In therapy, the therapist usually designs the alliance, in coaching the client does.
6. Forwarding the action; using a variety of skills to move the client a step forward toward their goal.
7. Holding the client’s agenda; probably the most important and distinctive coaching skill. As a coach, you become almost invisible and without judgment, opinion or answers, which allows your client to access their own answers.
8. Holding the focus; assisting your client to keep on-track when distracted by feelings, circumstances, etc.
9. Maintaining an Attitude of Inquiry; curious, supportive, positive, non-judgmental.
10. Powerful questions; an open-ended question that evokes clarity, deepens learning, and propels action.
11. Requesting; forwarding the action by making a request based upon your client’s agenda.
12. Reflective listening; providing a mirror to help your client increase insight, understanding, and clarity.

Coaching is a positive, empowering and highly effective way to help others achieve their most important life, relationship, and business goals. Being a Professional Coach is the best and most fulfilling way to make a living you can imagine!

If you don’t have any counseling training but are passionate about making a significant difference in the world, becoming a professional coach is a great option for you. Building a successful business as a professional coach is much easier than you might think.

If you’re a therapist, clinician, or other helping professional attracted to coaching for expanding your practice by working with more functional, private pay clients, coaching might be a good fit for you as many of your colleagues have found.

Life Coaching – Why I Hired a Life Coach to Help Me Fight the Recession and Expand My Business

What Happened

When we first met my coach took the time to get to know me. She did not ask me what I wanted to accomplish or what my goals were. I thought this was a little surprising at first but I now understand why she did it. Instead of rushing in to save the day, she wanted to understand what was holding me back in life. By understanding what my struggle points were, she could better craft a plan to help me move forward.

My Search For “The One”

It took me awhile to find a life coach that I clicked with. One of the biggest criteria for me was personal responsibility. Would the coach call me back when they said they would? Would the coach follow up on a lead that I gave them telling them that I wanted to work with them? And most importantly were these coaches demonstrating in their own life the type of results I wanted? Were they happy, healthy, wealthy, were they genuinely nice people and lastly did they have great relationships in their lives?

I had also made the decision that I personally wanted to work with a woman coach because women have unique concerns that a male coach might not always take seriously or fully understand. This is in no way intended to disparage a male coach, it was just a personal preference I had at this time in my life. I have had male coaches before and they were wonderful mentors.

The “Aha Moment”

After contacting a few women life coaches that met my criteria I was getting no where with finding the coach I wanted to work with. I put the thought in the back of my mind and continued working on my different projects and goals. Then on a cruise in the Caribbean I had the good fortune to run into a friend / acquaintance that did life coaching. I was a little nervous but I asked her at dinner if she would coach me and she to my delight said yes. Earlier that week I had watched her interact with people and more importantly observed how she connected with me personally. She was warm, gracious and had built a life for herself that I wanted to emulate. She was someone I could look up to and someone I wanted to work with deeply.

The Coaching Calls

Her coaching started off at my pace and was not a preset agenda she led all her clients through. It was truly personalized and was built for me and for what I wanted. She was also accessible and responded to my questions and concerns quickly. I did not have to hunt her down and felt like I was her only client. The sessions completely focused on me and what I wanted.

Making The Decision To Hire a Coach

You have to first understand where you are and how you got there before you can really rocket yourself to success. My coach helped me see things about myself that I did not recognize. Now don’t get me wrong, I am no stranger to personal development and self-improvement materials. I am an avid reader and I personally coach people to help them reach their goals. Because of this I understand that to really get great results, I had to practice what I preach and get myself a formal life coach.

You should really sit down and think about whether or not you are hitting the goals that you set for yourself. And more importantly are you merely setting goals you think you can achieve? Your goals should be a stretch, something to reach for and challenge yourself with. Not something that you can clearly see yourself achieving. Your goals have to scare you a little bit and make you a tad nervous, otherwise you are not thinking big enough.

Trade Your Life For Something Big

Remember that you are trading your life for the goals that you set for yourself. Each day you give up should be worth it. When you look back at your life you want to see great accomplishments and a truly fulfilled life, not a life that was lived in the shadows or played safe.

Think of the type of life you really want to lead and look at how you are living now. Do you think that your current habits, actions and thoughts are congruent with what you want to create in your life? What can you do to bring those three things into alignment.