What Coaching Can Do for You
Would you like to change your life? Do you long for a sense of community? More time for yourself? Would you like to take better care of your health, reduce stress, and create more balance in your life? Well, you're not alone. More and more people are tired of the fast-paced, frenzied "information age" and are interested in higher-quality lives--lives in which they have more time for themselves and their relationships, more energy to invest in their emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.
Whether you're a corporate executive working sixty hours a week, a single parent trying to raise a family, or someone who's tired of feeling stressed out and pressed for time, you have a choice about how to live your life. You can step back, reevaluate your priorities, and make a conscious decision about the future you'd like to create. How do you make such a decision? Where do you turn when you decide to improve the quality of your life?
When your body is out of shape and you need help getting fit or losing weight, you hire a personal trainer. Wouldn't it be great if you could do this for all other parts of your life? Well, now you can. With the help of a "personal coach," you can shape up your life and overcome the obstacles that get in the way of living a life that you love. In a sense, you can hire a "personal trainer for your soul."
When people hear that I'm a coach, the first question they inevitably ask is: "What sport?" Once I tell them that I'm not an athletic coach and that I coach people to create lives that they love, they wonder how coaching is different from therapy. It's understandable that most people would confuse the two--therapy is the closest model we have to this new profession called coaching. But the two are very different.
Coaching is not about processing your emotional history or diagnosing and treating mental health issues. Coaching is action oriented, with a focus on a client's current life and plans for the future; although therapy deals with a client's current life, the focus is usually on the past and the healing of emotional wounds. There can be overlap between coaching and therapy, and a well-trained, experienced coach should know when a client needs therapy instead of coaching. Because of this, I've developed relationships with experienced, licensed professionals, and it's not uncommon for us to refer clients to each other.
There is a growing need for more than what therapy provides. In therapy, clients may talk about the changes they'd like to make in their lives, but the "how to" and the resources are often missing. Yet such information is critical to my clients' success. Clients want someone to help them design a new life. They want a guide who can anticipate the obstacles on the path to this new life and help navigate around them. They want a partner who will remind them of their greatness when they forget, give them the tools to get unstuck, and challenge them to take action in spite of their fears. This need is now being met by personal coaches.
The need for coaching became evident to me while I was working as a tax consultant more than fifteen years ago. The time spent with clients was often very personal, requiring an intimate look into their lives. Typically, we'd talk not only about their finances (income, spending habits, and debt) but also about their medical history, family goals, and career plans. The questions they asked often concerned decisions that needed to be made about relocation, relationship conflicts, business dilemmas, or the challenge of balancing work and family. This led to longer conversations about life in general.
Although tax consulting can be a straightforward, "just the facts, ma'am," kind of job, my practice developed in a different direction. Year after year, in addition to their tax folders, clients brought me their life stories, wanting my advice and support. They needed a sounding board, an objective listener who could provide a fresh perspective. I learned how to create an environment in which people could feel comfortable and safe enough to talk about their lives freely.
Excerpted from Take Time For Your Life by Cheryl Richardson Copyright© 1998 by Cheryl Richardson. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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