What Is Life Coaching?

One of the questions I get asked a lot is “What is Life Coaching?”  People often try to relate it to an experience they have had such as: “I’ve had a coach for sports…is it like that?  I’ve had a therapist…is it like that? I love my mentor! Are you like them?! What about a pastor? You must be something like that!”

While I love being compared to each of these roles, Life Coaching is actually quite different from an athletic coach, a therapist or counselor, a mentor, and a pastor.  We might all have characteristics that overlap, but in reality our roles are very different. Someone might work with each of the individuals listed above and still need to hire a Life Coach.  It’s pretty awesome how much help and support is out there, and how differently each option meets individual needs. So here’s the difference between Life Coaching and all the other roles we are compared to.

A Life Coach is NOT a Therapist

There is a time and place for therapy, and a time and place for coaching.  Often the two can go hand in hand. A person might seek out therapy for a variety of reasons.  Typically it is because of an emotion they feel or an event that has greatly impacted them.  Therapists are trained to help their clients process and understand their emotions. They are great at what they do!  Life Coaching focuses less on the “why” of emotions, and more on the goals you want to achieve. It is centered on the present and future while counseling spends a considerable amount of time dissecting the past.  Coaching is also client lead rather than therapist lead. A person might go to therapy looking for solutions for healing, while they might go to a coach for strategies on how to move forward or achieve something. For example, a client might see a counselor to help manage his or her anxiety.  Simultaneously they might hire a coach to help them find the job of their dreams. If a person is currently seeing a therapist, he or she should ask their therapist’s advice on whether or not a life coach would support their work in therapy or hurt it.  

A Life Coach is NOT an Athletic Coach

The biggest difference between an Athletic Coach and a Life Coach is that an Athletic Coach tells you exactly what you need to do.  They will give you your practice plan, tell you the skills you need to improve, go over plays you need to follow, and give you workouts you need to stick to if you want to get playing time.  They tell you where you need to be on the field or court, how to strike, hit, kick, shoot, throw, or catch. They tell you the changes you need to make to improve or be better. A Life Coach will never tell you what to do.  Instead, they will ask you questions that help you to think through potential changes you could make for yourself. They guide you towards making your own game plan. A Life Coach helps you to be your own play maker and practice planner.  They direct you so that you can learn to call the shots on your own life in order to help you get your desired outcome.  

A Life Coach is NOT a Mentor

Mentors are some of the best people on the planet.  They are usually wise and beautiful humans who are looked up to and exemplified.  Mentees ask mentors how or why their mentor did something or how they might handle a situation in order to get advice on how to manage their own lives.  Mentors are sought out because there is value in their opinions and the choices they make. Often times a mentee wants help making his or her life look like their mentor’s.  A Life Coach typically won’t share from his or her own experiences. They also won’t give direct advice, or a straight answer if you ask them what you should do.  This is because a Life Coach doesn’t want to help you make your life look like theirs, they want to help you make your life look like yours.  They help direct you to seek out your goal(s), and have special techniques they use to help you answer your own investigations.  They ask you questions that help you focus on who you are and who you want to be. Life Coaches are similar to mentors in that they come alongside you, they care about you, and they want to see you progress and succeed.  The major difference is that they make the conversation 100% focused on you, and leave their own life experiences and opinions out of it.

A Life Coach is NOT a Pastor

A Pastor is someone you go to for spiritual advice.  You might want to understand a scripture in the Bible or maybe you have a deep life question you need clarity on.  You might want to know who God is or what faith means. A pastor leads you through biblical principles and helps you to understand by either giving you answers, or directing you to a place where you will find the answer.  A Pastor is essentially a teacher of the Bible. A Life Coach does not teach. They will help you on your path (spiritual or otherwise) by listening to your thoughts, ideas, and questions. Life Coaches are trained to listen not only to what you are saying, but also how you are saying it, and how to help you dig deeper into the hidden meaning behind your words.  A Life Coach doesn’t give you the answers, instead they partner with you and assist you in examining your life to help you uncover the answers you are seeking.

Now that you know what a Life Coach is NOT, let me tell you more about who a Life Coach is, and what they do.

A Life Coach is a trained professional who “partners with clients in a thought provoking and creative process that inspires the client to maximize their personal and professional potential,” (International Coaching Federation).  A Life Coach helps you to think differently about your current situation through effective questioning. The role of the Life Coach is to empower you to see your value and capability.  A Life Coaching Partnership is a unique relationship because the coach is trained to be fully focused and tuned into you, the client, and your needs.  How rare is it to have someone else fully listen to you, with no distractions or tangents from stories the listener has heard or experienced? It’s all about you, the client. The Life Coach is attentive to helping you find the direction and clarity you are seeking in any number of areas of your life including but not limited to health and wellness, business, personal, or relational.  A Life Coach listens and guides you according to a goal you express to them at the beginning of your coaching sessions.  

Everyone can benefit from a Life Coach because we all get stuck from time to time.  We hit walls and forget who we are. We need a specialized professional to help us remember (or discover) who we were created to be and how we can begin moving towards becoming more like that person.  They help us to reach our potential!

I know I’m pretty biased, but I LOVE LIFE COACHING!  I even get coached myself, because, well, like I said, we all can benefit!  Coaching is my passion and I’d love to share it with you. Sign up for a free call and start your journey towards maximizing your potential and in turn creating a life you love.