THE BLOG

Life Coaching Is Not Weird

06/20/2014 12:04 pm ET | Updated Aug 20, 2014

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Coaching sometimes gets a bum rap because people don't know the facts.

• They don't know what coaching is.

• They don't know how coaching is done.

• They don't know why coaching is successful.

Many individuals think it's unconventional, where anyone can hang up a life coaching shingle and do it, with little or no training at all.

I'll give you the truth because I did extensive research to see what the profession of coaching actually is. I looked at universities, training programs and talked to lots of experts in the field.

I was so impressed with the people and my findings that I decided to become a professional coach and went back to school.

Coaching is an accredited, well-established and respected profession.

• It's profoundly useful to people.

• It presents diverse, thought-provoking knowledge, skills and results.

• The ethical and professional standards are high.

• And... it works!

Masterful coaching involves helping people ... transform themselves, their communities, and their world. It involves impacting people's visions and values as well as helping them reshape their way of being, thinking, and actions. It involves challenging and supporting people in achieving higher levels of performance while allowing them to bring out the best in themselves and those around them. -- Robert Hargrove -- Masterful Coaching

Coaching is related to other modalities like therapy, consulting, and mentoring and incorporates some facets of each.

Here are five simple ways to define coaching and why it is immensely valuable.

1. Coaching is not therapy

Therapy traditionally is treatment to cure behavioral or emotional problems such as trauma, depression, anxiety, even serious mental illness, so people can live functional, good lives. The word literally means, "curing, healing."

In therapy, the healing may require fixing problems, dealing with issues in the past, analyzing behavior to resolve a specific problematic feeling or belief... focusing on "why" something happened.

Like therapy, coaching acknowledges the past, but more importantly, coaching is always about moving the client forward, from where they are presently, to where they want to be in the future.

Contrary to therapy, coaches see opportunities to be developed, not problems to be fixed.

It's an active, invigorating process assisting you to reach your potential, challenging and supporting you, seeing what is working well for you and promoting that success so you can achieve miraculous and logical results.

With a trained coach, you get personal assistance from someone who has your best interest in mind. Someone creative, non-judgmental, a good listener whose purpose is to help you manage and enjoy your life.

Coaching ... brings out the potential in a client, be it a person, couple, family or corporation. This process is done by emotionally connecting the client's inner purpose and passion to outer goals and strategies to bring about extraordinary and sustainable results. -- Bruce D. Schneider -- Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)

2. Coaching is not consulting

A consultant is hired to identify a problem and comes up with a plan to solve that specific problem. When they do, they turn the plan for success over to you -- "Here you go. This should work. Job complete."

Coaches work with you every step of the way, creating and implementing a plan together. That's the partnership.

How galvanizing is it for you to work on an idea you helped create rather than being told what to do?

Trained coaches enable you to find answers and then take action. We're experts on the coaching process -- asking questions, utilizing tools, principles and methods to help you produce exactly what you want.

Clearing for change is what I call it. Just as you would clear a runway for a plane to take off, or clear land to build something, coaching helps you make sure nothing is blocking your progress and aspirations.

Coaching is a healthy, positive, and enabling process that develops the capacity of people to solve today's business problems. Touching people's spirits and rekindling what deeply matters to them. -- Thomas G. Crane -- The Heart of coaching

3. Coaching is not mentoring

Mentors have a certain experience and ask you to follow their know-how and success. They teach you what they lived through. They've been in your shoes.

What works for me as a person and coach may be different for you. Coaches never impose their beliefs on you.

You'll learn to know yourself -- discovering what works for you; applying it to your full benefit.

Coaching creates a context where people regularly work on the most important issues of their lives. Coaching functions on a process level to help people understand who and where they are in their lives. -- Co-Active coaching by Laura Whitmore, Henry Kimsey-House and Phil Sandahl

4. Coaching is not advice

People love to give advice, but they're not a trained professional coach, and the "here's what you do" approach doesn't get to the heart of change. It's their answer for you.

Your personal coach listens deeply without judging you or giving advice. All the answers are in you.

Coaches help people set better goals and then reach those goals ... ask their clients to do more than they would have done on their own ... help their clients to focus better so as to produce results more quickly ... provide clients with tools, support, and structure to accomplish more. -- Thomas Leonard -- Founder, Coach University and the ICF

5. Coaching is not professional sports coaching

It's not about ego, the "I" win competition mindset of beating out someone else, but rather to have everyone win, all the way around and always to do your best.

You'll gain fortitude through coaching. The more you know yourself and your purpose in life, the more stable, resilient and confident you'll be.

Coaches anchor people to their own internal strengths; they inspire organizations to dream beyond their plans. They apply emotional and intellectual intelligence to the long haul of life and work. Coaches facilitate the change that clients need as they prepare to face the future with strength and optimism. -- Frederic Hudson -- Founder: The Hudson Institute

Now tell me: How weird does all this sound to you?