Me as a Customer
I’ve been a paying customer of 4 or 5 different coaches. I learned something from all of them, though it’s fair to say each had their own strengths and weaknesses.
Me as a Coach
I’ve also been trained to be a life coach by an industry veteran, my good friend Tim Brownson. I’ve also sat in on Tim’s training of other new and aspiring life coaches (multiple times), occasionally offering some of my own nuggets of wisdom.
For a while, I tried to run a business of my own as The Depression Coach – I wanted to help people like me who have depression. Although I’m not a qualified counsellor, I felt there was a gap in the market to offer coaching to people with mild to moderate mental health issues.
Unfortunately, I really dislike marketing, so that business never went anywhere.
Me as a Listener
I’ve also volunteered as a Listener for a well-known suicide prevention charity. It taught me some really valuable skills which complement those of a coach.
Anyway, what I’m trying to explain is that I think I have a pretty good idea about what life coaches do, what they can offer, and the value they can deliver.
So What’s My Problem with Coaching?
You’d think with all my industry experience, I’d be a firm advocate of life coaching.
And I am… kinda…
Life coaches genuinely help people to make big, powerful improvements to their lives.
My issue is… the cost.
Coaching is great for people who have the cash to spare. But plenty of people who could benefit from coaching simply can’t justify spending that kind of money on it.
The key skills of a good life coach are:
- Build rapport with the client.
- Ask good questions.
- Shut up and listen carefully to the answers.
Note: these are also some of the core skills for anyone working as a listener for a suicide prevention charity.
The Good Old Days
It really troubles me that a few generations ago, the job of life coaches used to be taken care of by a person’s friends and family, or local community. I’m thinking of the wise old grandma or granddad, or the village priest.
But since the 80s, society has been breaking down. Family structures are getting smaller. Many people now spend more time staring at screens than they do socialising face-to-face. Most people are so focussed on their own individuality – there’s far less focus on how they fit into the fabric of society.
Sure, not everyone has the competence or skillset that a trained coach should have. This is why friends sometimes give terrible, though well-meaning, advice.
But I can’t help thinking…
What if more people had basic coaching skills… and offered them to their friends and family for free?
What if everyone was a life coach? (But not as their main career!)
The Greatest Gift
I’ve learned that one of the greatest gifts you can give someone is to listen to them non-judgementally.
Just carve out some time to talk, preferably face-to-face. Remove all distractions. Encourage the other person to talk.
“We have two ears and one mouth, we should use them in that proportion.”Some wise person
I’ve been blown away by the kindness and compassion I’ve received from friends and family in the last few years.
You soon learn who cares about you… the people who are willing to actually give you the time to sit and talk openly and honestly together.
One of the greatest strengths of 12 Steps fellowships is that everyone listens as each person shares. It builds empathy, understanding and trust.
We don’t try to solve each other’s problems…
… we just LISTEN!
I can’t overstate the power of the simple act of listening.
I want to live in a world where no-one pays for a life coach.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I think life coaches don’t offer anything valuable – far from it.
But I wish for a time where everyone had the time, willingness and skills to be a life coach to the people around them. For free.
What do you think? Could this ever be a reality?
What if life coaching skills were taught to everyone at school?
Let me know in the comments section below, I’d love to heart from you.
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