What Makes a Good Life Coach?

What Makes A Good Life Coach

There’s a great difference between a life coach and a good life coach.

Let me paint a picture I see with people approaching coaching and their focus on success.

There are coaches two a penny. They use approaches modelled by the ideologies and thinking of motivational speakers and authors of whatever self help books are in vogue. Often these books can be very helpful as piece in the jigsaw, but they shouldn’t be confused with the picture itself.  I get a bit frustrated by the simplicity of these “How to turn your world around, upside down and inside out in 777 seconds” or “How to win a million in a month” books. Life is a little more complex than that. Stephen Covey captured it for me when he described the lack of attention on depth of character and the over focus on the ‘Personality Ethic’ as described in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

At times, I’m concerned that there’s a self driven idealism here in our self-help success, which I think in the wrong hands, can be a very dangerous. More importantly, sometimes I feel the dignity, complexity and reality of a humans life creates a false idealistic set of goals.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about people going against all odds and achieving amazing feats of success. I read lots and I’m a sucker for looking at the character, lifestyle and traits of those who are fruitful, and have had significance in what they do. But I think sometimes, the drug of success has too much of a pull that we can be left getting things out of sync. I speak from experience, where at times I have been way too focused on my ‘work and life goals.’ In the busyness and thrill of the chase, you can forget what’s right under your nose.

I think people’s hunger for success is one of the most intoxicating substances around. Forget a line of coke or the buzz from a pill, success has the hugest pull of them all. Like all the ‘best’ addictions, it can never be quenched.

Q. “You’re a billionaire, you’re a huge success – how much will be enough money…”

A. “A little more.”

What’s more, because success is not only legalised, but also actively encouraged by Governments and spokespeople from all walks of life, we don’t see anything wrong in the addiction. We all need a ‘good work ethic’ and really who knows the difference from the two.

So we’re encouraged to have more. A lot more. But at what cost? To people, to their families, to their health, to their colleagues. Before any good business deal is put together a financial audit needs to be carried out to establish whether growth is a good commercial move. Surely, there needs to be a life audit to see if it’s a good life move for all the lives of the people involved. If the results for not continuing forward with more profit, is as a result of a life audit, well try defending that position to the shareholders.

I like having goals, working hard and focusing towards them but I think the critical bit that is often missed out, is making sure that the goals that are set, are actually healthy for the individual. In keeping with who they are, their personalities, their gifts and that they wont gain the world at a cost of losing all that had become important to them. In contrast, to reveal a sense that the balance of goals can be found in life, work and shalom, I love seeing those who are successful, but seem to have things together as well. From a distance looking in, Warren Buffet springs to mind for me with his approach to lifestyle, outworking of his faith, and the principles and ethics that guide his business decisions. Oh yes, he’s also one of the riches men in the world, who has committed to giving away 95% of his personal fortune.

People who are hungry for success keep their energy levels up, their determination intact, and feed the demanding drug of success. They surround themselves with like-minded people and through sheer bloody mindedness and determination, either keep going till they reach ‘success’ or they end up walking away with their tail between their legs, (with life long tales of what they would have achieved if they’d really wanted to).

So when it comes down to the role of the life coach, and their support to help people reach success, it’s an opportunity for people to take a step back and assess what’s important. It’s true that people in business are often more successful with the right coaching support. Those who support them, champion them, help them prioritise and work towards their goals. If they get that regular accountable feedback, even average coaching can sometimes be better than no coaching.

A good life coach knows the person they are coaching intimately, understands their gifts and has a clear handle on the potential opportunities they face. They can see the strengths and weaknesses of that individual, the forthcoming problems and blind spots, and has the right level of empathy to ask the right questions helping them navigate through to the other side. Through experience, they give challenge, support, motivation and hope.

I wish people would have more space in today’s busy pace of life, to know themselves inside out and to get to know their own personalities more. I think too many people play roles out of position. They can often not end up working in a space where they will end up truly enjoying what they do and sensing both shalom and a sense of contentment. How many people do you meet who love their jobs, and look forward to going to work each day. Sure there will be frustrations in all jobs, but if only people could spend time working in environments and jobs they loved and give them life. Life is too short to be spending your working life doing work that isn’t exciting and satisfying. That’s where the coaches gifting should come in.

Let the coaches earn their added value, on how they enable you to generate a greater financial return, efficiency and level of success. Also let them be held to account, on how much they increase their clients “Return On Life’s Investment.” That’s wholehearted full bodied coaching that’s worth paying for.

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What do you look for in a life coach and what do you think is important to look for in a good life coach? Please leave your responses in the comment section below.


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