AKA Is it like therapy / mentoring / consulting / etc.?

AKA Is it like therapy / mentoring / consulting / etc.?

In November 2015, I hired an online therapist. I was anxious about the upcoming holidays, ‘cause I had just left a job that paid, and was about to move ¾ of the way across the USA where I prayed I would find an occupation, friends, tacos and sunshine on December days.

I knew that this was what I wanted to do, but I still felt fear. And I wanted the ear of a professional near as I steered my life in this new direction.

I remember my calls with, let’s say Amy, and they consisted of me gushing about my week, complaining about how hard it was to keep my morning routines. And once the fog of the holiday lifts and I Lyft it from the airport to a new city with suitcases in hand, what was my plan? I asked her questions sometimes. Because she was a specialist of the mind. She had to know something I did not.

I learned did not matter what she thought. Because I wanted to move through the strife to get my brand new dream life. What was the homework I needed to do to make the stuff in my visions come true?

“Homework?” she asked. “We don’t really do homework in therapy.”

Hmm. In her practice this was an atypical approach. What I realized I wanted was a life coach.

"So what is a life coach? Is it like therapy?"

Life coaches are partners that help you gain clarification around what you want and why and a plan for taking action towards a life you are exhilarated by. Coaches do this by asking questions that access the client’s truth. It is an empowering process to experience and teach; proof that sustainable evolution is within everyone’s reach.

It’s a little like therapy because we tend to “think out loud”; venting can be soothing too, and totally allowed. Also, some of the reasons we don’t have the things we want is our inner voice that haunts us. It whispers limiting beliefs about our world and ourselves that prevent us from taking action and put our dreams on the back shelf.

Coaching can help to give the voice a name and reframe our perspective, but some of these beliefs are deeply held and were formed at a very young age. There may have been trauma and abuse and there could be residual fear and rage. This is where therapy can help. Therapists can aid healing old scars and move patients to a safe place to approach coaching with a healthy mind space.

If you’re a car with a faulty engine, you’re not gonna get too far. Therapy fixes that glitch to make your motor run. Coaching is like that fuel injection that gets you to your destination faster and the ride a lot more fun.

"Not to be insulting, but isn’t coaching like consulting?"

No offense taken and it’s easy to confuse. Both are specialized professionals being hired to provide a service. But consultants are experts in a particular domain; they come with an agenda to complete a task or make gains towards mutually-agreed terms of success.

Coaches, on the other hand, believe the clients are the experts in their own lives. They strive to hit the goals of the session that the client sets. The client determines the success. And it is the coaches job to get there through their own process. Coaches are kinda like nocturnal scientists with a flashlight. specializing in discovery, uncovering motivations, patterns and clarity for the client to insight.

"OK, and since we’re on this tour, how is a coach like a mentor?"

Coaching can seem like mentoring because the coach is often an achievement queen or king despite the hardships they have overcome. The expertise they bring might be the thing that attracts the client to them in the first place. The difference is that mentors are usually older or more senior than their protege, and often advise what they feel is the best way to go. There is no monetary exchange in mentorship. On the flip side, coaches get paid and their place is not to give advice. The best coaches know that everyone’s path is their own--they ask the tough q’s so as to reveal the answers that deep down, the client has known all along. In my experience, working with a coach is the most sustainable efficient way to make change because it comes from deep within. The client makes the choice to turn the page in their own story. Both parties are highly engaged. There are coaches for clients of any age or stage in life.

A note here: while it is often the case that a client pursues a coach due to a particular specialty, it is not mandatory in order to have a glorious coaching experience. A well-trained coach can help a fully-functioning person work through whatever it is they want to. That being said, the upside to working with a coach in a certain niche is that they have tools that tend to scratch a special kind of itch. Want some help losing weight? A trainer may help you trim temporarily for that one important date, but a health coach addresses the issue at the source. They will work first not on your core, but the core thoughts and beliefs that will get you more lasting results.

"How do you know if a coach is legit?"

Because the coaching industry is largely unregulated, doing your research on who you work with cannot be overstated. Many pro service providers classify themselves as a “coach” when really they take more of a consultant’s approach.

Ask yourself: In choosing to work with a life or business coach, what is most important to me?

Some of the factors you will want to consider:

  • Fee

  • Experience (years / coaching hours)

  • Education & Training

  • Certifications (CPC, PCC, ACC, MCC etc.)

  • Specialty (Life Purpose, Transition, Executive, Corporate, Relationship, Health)

  • Service Offerings (1:1 coaching, group training, workshops)

A Note about Life Coach Fees

Coach fees vary considerably depending on the specialty, experience, service offerings, and the client. I’ve seen fees for as little as $35 to $1K per session or higher in the corporate realm. It is hard to know what a coaching experience is worth and it can trigger overwhelm. But here are some questions to ask yourself:

What changes do I want to make most in my life and what is it costing me financially and emotionally?

How would my life be different if I were to make those changes? What else might shift for me?

If I were to be able to make those shifts in the next 6 months, what would that be worth to me?

Getting clear about what you want to gain from the coaching experience is the first step to making it happen.

And while you’re at it, find out how you want to feel. Tap into it and you can make it real.

"OK, I’m curious about hiring a life coach for sure. What’s the next step if I want to learn more?"

Once you have an idea about the changes you want to make in your life, a great place to start is asking people in your circles that you respect and admire if they have ever worked with a life coach and who they might recommend you hire.

Then hopefully, they send you to me. Hehehe.

As a huge advocate for the impact coaching’s had on me, I am delighted to discuss it more in depth with you for free.

Googling also works and is free. Any great coach who has some interesting content to share will probably have a mailing list or an Instagram account. Sign up and follow them to see what kind of insights are there.

Lots of times they will have useful freebies in exchange for your info. And while we’re on it, you’re in for a treat, you can get Five Days of Focus for free just by signing up below. Thanks for investing your time with me here. I’d love to hear more about what you would like to know about coaching on social or in a comment below!