Isn’t life coaching just an American fad?
True, life coaching does stem from the 1970s American vogue for motivational talks and self-help books, which have always been notoriously sickly-sweet and upbeat in their mission to motivate the masses.
British people tend to shy away from the idea of ‘self-help’ and ‘self-improvement’ – possibly because of the mantra ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ is an intrinsic part of our national psyche, making us a down-to-earth, self-deprecating crowd. Whereas the British are stereotypically stoic and modest in nature, the United States was built upon ideologies of strength, hope and improvement – values that paved the way for a flourishing self-help industry centuries later.
Unlike some of the self-help titles from the U.S (‘How to Shine Out in a Crowd’, ‘How to Keep a Man in Love with You Forever’ along with thousands of other titles claiming to help readers get rich, get fit, get happy, get healthy in five seconds etc.), life coaching did not make any unbelievable-sounding claims – it did not pose its self as a miracle cure for unhappiness, or a quick-fix solution for obesity or debt.
It offered a structured, methodological and realistic approach that resonated well with the British philosophy. The life coaching techniques I use are based on psychological evidence and basic intuition, not opinion, judgements, or wishy-washy life advice.
People are starting to realise that ‘self-help’ is not a self-indulgent fad, complementary approaches are in fact a way of improving what we already have, utilising what we already know and breaking down limiting preconceptions about who we are and what we’re capable of.
Even the most sceptical among us can benefit from discussing and organising our lives with an impartial stranger. In the top Fortune 500 businesses coaching is seen as a must and not a self-indulgent fad.
So to answer the question simply – no, life coaching is not just an American fad. It is a legitimate, effective and transformational process that is here to stay and looks set to continue growing in the UK over the coming years.
All successful sessions start with clearly defining what it is you want to achieve. On its own Life Coaching is a fundamental tool in its own right but when combined and integrated with NLP it is a really powerful tool.
What is a life coach?
The term ‘coaching’ itself comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for ‘carriage’, which is a means of transporting something from one place to another. A life coach therefore, is an individual who guides another individual from where they are in life, to where they want to be in life.
As a life coach I aim to help and empower you to make, meet and exceed your personal and professional goals, identify the changes you want to make, including excelling in the workplace, being happy and fulfilled, exploring yourself and the world, and achieving your ambitions.
By harnessing specialist techniques based on core psychological principals and natural intuition, as a life coach I provide clients with the tools to confidently face difficult situations, push past emotional barriers and view life with fresh, positive, hopeful and enlightened eyes.
Just as sports coaches enable athletes to hone themselves into the fastest, strongest, most tactical competitors in their disciplines, or as adventure outdoor coaches coach the clients to face their fears and push their limits, life coaching helps people from all professional and personal backgrounds improve their strengths, facilitate change to make the most of their lives.
As a life coach I will never try to be an ‘agony aunt’ and will never attempt to dish out advice because, firstly – giving advice is just a way of imposing a personal view of the world onto another person (who may or may not share the same view) and, secondly – it is just not a life coach’s job.
Life coaching is about objectivity, structure and empowerment, not instruction or indoctrination.
At the heart of it all lies the idea that clients must be given the power to help themselves. Offering advice, opinions and judgements would undermine some of the basic principles behind life coaching, which include:
A) Subjectivity: we all have different perspectives of the world – no one perspective is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, but some perspectives are restrictive and can stop a person becoming who they want to be.
B) Empowerment: it is within everyone’s capability to adjust the limits of their own perspective. With the help of life coaching, anyone can learn to open their mind if they wish.
C) Guidance: there is a difference between an instructor and a guide. An instructor shows a person exactly what to do, whereas a guide provides the tools and support a person needs to do something for themselves. A life coach is a guide, not an instructor.
Even through the years as a professional instructor in adventure activities I have learned that people learn best when guided to discovery rather than told the answer.
This links back, as with guidance you can feel empowered and when empowered you can be subjective in your personal views.
As a life coach I will approach things pragmatically. Through questions and exercises, I aim to get a good idea of how you look at the world. From this we will be able to identify the most effective route to your goal. Some people feel intimidated by the idea of change and so need to take things very slowly to fulfil their goals.
In this situation a life coach might divide ultimate goals into smaller bite-sized pieces. Other people get impatient and lose interest if their dreams aren’t realised immediately. In this situation I might suggest introducing stronger reminders and incentives to keep you on track. The significant thing here is that, every session is tailored to what best fits you.
How is life coaching different from counselling?
The fundamental difference between counselling and life coaching is that counselling usually investigates the roots and causes of potential issues or mental health problems, whereas life coaching focuses mainly on the future to encourage personal-development and self-improvement. Life coaches are not (unless specified) qualified to diagnose or treat any health-related problems, although if a situation arises I may suggest you see a GP.