Professional coaching is still a relatively new thing. Everyone seems to be familiar with sports coaching. Sometimes when I tell be that I'm a coach, they ask "What sport?" This to me is kind of indicative that there are still a lot of open question on this topic. Here are few things that are helpful to know about coaching:
1) Coaches are trained professionals and have some form of certificate or credential. There will be those that simply call themselves a coach much like some people think they are a 'carpenter' or 'plumber'. This is unfortunate, but as with most people you consider hiring, it's always a good idea to get that person's credentials. The ICF (International Coaching Federation) is the governing body for coaching. They monitor and give accreditation to various coaching training programs. It's a good idea to ensure that you a coach you are considering got their training from an ICF recognized institution. Since coaching is an ongoing relationship that will likely last over months and potentially years, it's in your best interest to find a good one and one that you are very comfortable with.
2) Coaching has a number of different specializations based on your individual needs. Some examples of these are:
- grief coach
- career coach
- transformative coach
- executive coach
- health and wellness coach
- divorce coach
- life coach
and likely many other versions. Some coaches are more well versed in some of these areas based on both their background and specialization they have either sought out or organically acquired expertise in. The burden isn't on the client though in regard to what they need specifically. A good life coach can help with a multitude of these. Just know that if there is a specialization need, there is a likely a coach out there that can accommodate that need.
3) You don't need to find a 'local' coach. Coaching is not like getting your teeth cleaned. Coaching can be done very effectively remotely over the phone or even on Skype. This is of a course a personal preference. If you prefer to be sitting across from the coach you are working with, then you should seek out someone locally. Distance has no impact on the efficacy though, so don't let that deter you.
4) Coaches can be a great complement to other professionals you are working with. Great examples of this are supplementing your divorce lawyer with a coach that specializes or has background with divorces. Let the lawyer do what they do best and don't try to have the lawyer fill the coaching role as well. Another great example is that of a personal trainer. This is the person that creates your exercise plan at the gym. They aren't usually well versed in the broader picture of your personal goals which may well include health and wellness, but isn't limited to just that. Try to think of ways that a coach can help supplement the people who are already helping and assisting you in some other capacity.
5) Coaches don't tell you what to do. The fundamental role of a coach is not to dictate or prescribe some sort of plan for you. The emphasis is solely on you as the client and what YOU want to do. There are coaches who employ a 'blended' approach where they are both a coach and also part consultant or subject matter expert. For the most part though, a coach is there to guide you through that process; discover the things that are holding you back from being your best self; ask questions and use tools that will help you reframe your perspective and outlook. This can be really powerful since we all tend to go through life with a number of preconceived notions that very often we are not even aware of. A coach is there to illuminate those areas where we may hold self limiting beliefs and challenge us to move beyond those.
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