Who is a life coach?

The word Coaching has been misunderstood and to the ordinary man it means a lot and is used interchangeably to mean other similar vocations like Consulting, Mentoring, Counseling etc.

Coaching came from the word "Coach" In the 1950s, the word "Coach" described a horse drawn vehicle that carry people from where they are to where they want to be. Later big buses or train with seats that carry people were also called Coaches.

Coaches who were supposed to help athletes to move from where they are to a greater height were also engaged in sporting profession. This brought about the recognition of coaching profession in the sports industry. Coaching services were later extended to the entertainment industry and musicians, public speaker, actors etc. relied on their services.

Coaching moved into the corporate world not too long ago. The impact of globalization, technological changes and the resultant effect on people management impacted the vocation when the need for organization and their executives to develop new management style to make employee more effective arose. A style that encourages the employees to come up with agenda which will be encouraged by the manager became prevalent.

On the individual basis people started coming to coaches for a lot of reasons to achieve a specific goal, for example to write a book, start a business, to handle an important assignment, to be more satisfied at work, to develop new skill, to help them navigate life changes. Some others wanted more from life, for example peace of mind, more security, more wisdom on how to use their resources to achieve a good life, work balance and to experience less stress and more financial freedom.

The meaning of a life Coach is still not popular among the ordinary man on the street , this is exemplified by a chat I had with some people in an office not long ago. When I introduced myself as a Life Coach, I was faced with a barrage of questions --- what is life coaching? What do they do?, are they like football Coaches? , are they Counselors? Consultants?, etc. My answer was that they are not any of these professional groups though they all are involved in improving human performance in various dimensions. While the other professionals like teachers will tell you what they know and tell you the answers in accordance to the syllabus, consultants will give expert advice or mentors will model for you what to do and counselors will look out for the cause of the problem in the past and recommend what should be done., a life coach concentrates on your future or present opportunities.

Life coaches are professionals who are trained to partner with their clients in providing solution by asking them questions. These are open ended questions intended to stretch the thinking of their clients with the view of unlocking the hidden potential to find solutions to the issue at stake. They become their thinking partner. The Coach does not come up with the answers but provokes the client to think and come up with the answers they need. In so doing they help people who are stuck in a particular area of life and want to move forward to actualize their dreams without suggesting for them what to do but to make them come up with their own plans while ensuring that they are accountable.

According to Dr. Gary Collins, coaching "is art and practice of enabling individuals and organizations to move from where they are to where they want to be" It about helping people: ✓ Get unstucked ✓ Identify their Strength and Passion ✓ Build their confidence. ✓ Find their Life Purpose. ✓ Increase their skill ✓ Find greater meaning in what they do. ✓ Take practical steps to achieve goals.