International Coaching week is February 6th-10th, so as a national board member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF) I thought I would play my part and promote coaching.
Many people are not sure what coaching is, especially in Ireland, as it is relatively new here. When I tell people that I am a coach they often misunderstand and assume my business is focused on sports coaching. Whilst there are similarities, my aim is to empower people to become the best possible versions of themselves; whether that be in their personal lives, their careers or businesses.
Some people will chuckle and might even disregard this new profession in Ireland, thinking “Sure why do I need a life coach? I don’t need anyone to tell me how to run my life/ business. Can’t I talk to my friend?”
That, however, is the exact opposite of coaching. A coach will never tell you what to do. The only agenda a reputable coach has is whatever you bring to the table i.e. the coach’s agenda is your agenda. You decide what you want to talk about, what goals you want to achieve, how the coaching conversation will support that process and what exactly the coach’s role is in that process.
How does coaching differ from other professional services?
There are many fine lines between all the services out there; each professional service has its place and value. It really depends on what intervention is most applicable to you. Coaching sees itself as offering equal value to other professional services. The intervention you require will depend on your needs and you know best what your needs are:
- Counselling – this is about re-experiencing the past to change how you feel in the future. Deep emotional issues can be resolved through counselling. Coaching can change the way that you feel or perceive a situation and help identify what changes needs to happen to determine a positive future.
- Consulting – consultants are experts in their field, they have knowledge, education and experience that you may not have. For some people it is necessary to use this intervention; while others abhor the thought using the services of consultants, using the phrases “they don`t get me” or “no one is going to tell me what to do”. In order to enact change some clients choose coaching, as coaches view their clients as experts on themselves.
- Mentoring – has its place, as people draw on others’ experience to support them in a new role. Only coaches who have experience similar to what you require should be used.
It is always forward focused
Coaching is focused and results oriented, so if you have goals or results you want to achieve coaching may be the intervention for you. At all times you are moving closer to the goal or the desired result you want to achieve. While coaching is a conversation, it’s focused on you. You may have a friend that is great to talk to, but half the conversation can sometimes be focused on them, and thus your agenda or goal could be missed. Coaching is really about having the space to focus your thoughts in the direction of your goals.
A coach will never tell you that you have to complete three or ten sessions with them. You are in control, you are the expert, no coach should deem themselves experts on you. Sometimes coaches will hold their hands up and say “I’m not an expert in this area.” In that situation it is the coach’s responsibility to refer you to a another professional who will move you forward. If you want to devote your time elsewhere and come back to coaching that’s fine. Again the only agenda for the coach is your agenda.
The way we grow is from the inside out
The coaching community of which I am a part, the ICF, believe in empowerment. What that means is that people who come to coaching need to be looking for change. For that change process to happen, people must be ready, willing and able to use coaching as the correct intervention for them. Coaching works for people because in order for change to happen we must decide to change first. That decision to change is deeply personal. When you are ready to grow into the best possible version of yourself you will begin to take a different path in life, gaining new insights into yourself and changing your perspective on how you cope with life’s challenges.
You are not dependent on the coach or anyone else to create change in your life; you are ultimately responsible and accountable for yourself. You have your own solutions to the personal challenges that you face, you are the expert on you and no one else is. Coaching is about exploring options and possibilities to create that change. Some people come to coaching because they feel stuck. Some believe they have run out of options. Others are looking for a sense of fulfilment and to improve their lives, whether that is in their personal life, their career or business. Some people want focus and expertise to achieve their goals, while others become frustrated with the path that they are on.
Coaching experts use different skills, resources, experience and techniques to get the best out of a client. I personally draw on my education and experience to in order to assist people.
I am a Master Practitioner in Neuro Linguistic Programming, whereby I use techniques to aid people with confidence, public speaking and interview skills. I use Transactional Analysis Coaching to assist people improve their business, career and personal lives. I also use psychometric assessment tools to facilitate career change, career planning and leadership development.
Are you ready for coaching?
Are you ready, willing and able to create positive personal change in your life and become the person you always wanted to become? That decision lies with you; you have the power to change.
About the Author:
William is a coach who works with people in a way that works for them. He is currently a national director of the international coaching federation. He also addressed the National Forum on Resilience in Áras an Uachtaráin. He offers many services to help people on all levels in their personal lives, business lives and careers. William specialises in working with people in developing confidence, whether that is in improving a client’s business, career or public speaking. He also runs courses nationwide on time management.