Life Coaching is a growing profession.
This month, with the New Year and its promises for a ‘New You,’ interest in life coaching peaks, along with anything else which offers succour for our self-improvement.
Are you looking for a Life Coach? Or hoping for a new career as one?
Friends have described me as a ‘Life Coach’ a few times, which I insist I am not, whilst acknowledging the compliment intended. If I wanted a career as one, as anyone can, my credentials might serve me well. However, the right person for the job could emerge from any background with appropriate training, according to the criteria below:
As a life coach you should have:
• excellent listening, questioning and ‘people’ skills
• the ability to quickly bond with clients from different backgrounds
• an open mind and non-judgemental approach
• the ability to inspire and move clients to achieve goals
• the confidence to challenge clients in a caring way
• respect for private information
• the will to keep to a professional code of ethics.
Goals – now there’s the nub. I started setting goals seriously about twenty years ago, as my interest in psychology became more focussed on what is now termed ‘Applied Positive Psychology,’ and I considered studying for a doctorate in the field of Human Development. The idea of helping people to achieve their potential, to live happier and more fulfilling lives, appealed to me.
Fast forward a few years, when I became a mother and those ambitions were put on hold, although I continued teaching until several years ago, when I decided I wanted to work for myself, to create a career which made worthwhile use of my skills and experience and, importantly, free me to do what I had always wanted to do – to write. I resolved to become a creator, trainer and facilitator of amazing ‘Applied Positive Psychology’ programmes.
My business, a means unto itself and a means to an end, was well planned, winning a local award for ‘Best New Business Plan,’ was an attractive product with incentives and a Unique Selling Point, and it crashed quickly with the best of them in The Great Recession of 2008. This is where it got interesting; where the learning, and the writing, really started. With nothing left to lose, and finding barriers had come down on some other avenues, I began to do the thing that had been on every Goal List of mine for years and years, yet pushed to the bottom because of all the things I thought, and thought other people thought, I should be doing.
During that challenging period the concepts, techniques and resources I had accrued, as well as further reading and reflection, became really helpful to me in managing my state, coping with problems, growing resilience and faith to enable me to move forward. The first downy feathers on my waxing phoenix were the articles which I eventually expanded into my ‘Metaphorm’ handbook of applied positive psychology. I then went on to revise my first short novel and write my second and first full-length novel, finding that writing meets a need to explore the shadowy, confusing aspects of life; to illuminate them, to shape some meaning and incubate consciousness from them.
So, an efficacious life coach might provide a helpful ‘leg-up’ when needed. Ultimately however, in my view, each individual has their own existential problems which they need to face. Now it goes without saying that a life coach with a personality disorder is potentially dangerous, which is the premise of my latest novel, ‘The Life Coach Less Travelled,’ but even the best life coach, I believe, cannot be a surrogate for our uniquely personal growth and purpose. The late M. Scott Peck, to whom I am grateful for the insights gained from his works, as well as inspiration for a metaphor and title of my novel, sums this up well:
“Life is complex.
Each one of us must make his own path through life. There are no self-help manuals, no formulas, no easy answers. The right road for one is the wrong road for another…The journey of life is not paved in blacktop; it is not brightly lit, and it has no road signs. It is a rocky path through the wilderness. ”
Still, Confucius says:
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
Whatever it is, Life is a short trip, and it’s ours to make the most of, with or without a life coach.