When I first embarked upon my path as a life coach, I distinctly recall the raised eyebrows and blank stares from those unfamiliar with my chosen profession. In the years since, I have noticed a distinct shift in the initial reactions I receive and my declaration is now met with knowing head nods. While the reception may be changing as life coaching becomes more prevalent, to this day the follow-up question is almost always the same: “What exactly does a life coach do?”
I often begin by saying what it is a life coach isn’t. Life coaches are not therapists or mental health professionals. We aren’t metaphysical mystics or spiritual healers. We don’t give legal advice and we can’t balance a client’s checkbook. I prefer to say that we are more akin to personal trainers for the mind. A personal trainer may take a physical self that is atrophied from lack of use and bloated from too many Taco Tuesdays and Wine Wednesdays and find the potential buried within. Life coaches, on the other hand, strip away the sense of self burdened by years of excuses and beaten down by negative inner narratives and help uncover a client’s best self.
Where I find that analogy breaks down for some people is they begin envisioning the washboard abs and thoroughbred thighs a personal trainer can promise. But what then is the life coach equivalent? Below are five outcomes you can and should expect from your life coach.
- Clarity – We spend much of our lives developing coping mechanisms designed to help us accept our lives as they are and excuses designed to protect us from possible failure and pain. A life coach will help you imagine what your life COULD be and most importantly what you want it to be. You will begin to connect your head and heart to turn passions into dreams and learn how to create what you crave.
- Strategy – A life coach will teach you to actively change your life by design instead of by default. Coaches address specific projects or challenges, whether personal or professional, examine what the obstacles might be, and help you choose a course of action.
- Liberty – Coaching is designed to empower clients to understand that they don’t need to be given the answers. Instead, coaches are trained to ask questions and use specific tools to provide a roadmap for clients to unlock the answers within. You will learn how to make your own unequivocal and unapologetic decisions to achieve your success.
- Community – Life coaches often work both with individuals and in small group workshops. One of the beautiful outcomes of workshops is the sense of togetherness and fellowship that develops between participants. Inevitably they draw strength from shared experience. But even in one-on-one sessions, a life coach will use his/her personal journeys and combine those with stories of other clients to provide proof of possibility.
- Accountability – When you choose to work with a life coach, you are blessed with your greatest cheerleader, but also challenged with a relentless taskmaster. Coaches don’t seek to see people’s walls and tear them down; instead, they get people to the point where they are ready to see their own walls and tear them down themselves. But the coach will always be there to double check the demolition and hold clients accountable to their vision.
While these five outcomes may not be as aesthetically pleasing as a six pack, I firmly believe they will have an even more profound impact on your wellbeing. When you’re ready for clarity, strategy, liberty, community and accountability, I look forward to HEARING FROM YOU.
Lisa Panos, Life Coach