What is a Life Coach: A Coach or Cheerleader?

What exactly is a life coach?

Motivational speakers, mentors, trainers and coaches are often all bundled together under the umbrella of ‘coaching’. It’s no wonder people are confused.

All coaches have their own unique way of working, but in its purest form coaching is an equal collaboration, exploring rather than advising.

Coaching is about helping you to see things differently, to become more self-aware and to find your own answers. If you’re working with a mentor or trainer then they are more likely to share their own knowledge and expertise with you.

Coaching is not Cheerleading

People often confuse coaching with cheerleading too. You could think of it as the difference between transformation and motivation.

Transformation is about lasting change, and if that was as easy as motivation, we’d all be ‘living our best life’ right now, just from listening to an inspiring talk or reading a self-help book.

Cheerleading feels great, someone to encourage you, telling you what you need to hear, cheering you on even when things aren’t going well, telling you to keep going, you’re doing great.

What if you’re not doing great?

But what if you’re not doing great? What if having someone cheering you on and telling you ‘you can do it‘ is not what you need. After all, if you just keep going in the same way and you change nothing, then nothing will change.

What if the thing you really need is for someone to be honest with you, to acknowledge that things could be better.  Instead of ploughing on as you have been before, maybe you need to stop and look at things objectively, perhaps there’s something you can change.

Think about sport.  The cheerleaders on the sidelines have an important role to play as they shout encouragement, ‘you’re doing a great job’, ‘keep going’, shaking their pom-poms, cheering, making noise. It certainly helps the team feel good, but does it mean they play better?

The encouraging words won’t stop the athletes repeating the same mistakes, or help them to improve, or understand what might be going wrong.  The coach, however, observes, notices what’s going on and sees patterns of behaviour in the way the team play.

The coach recognises when the players are holding themselves back and sees what they can’t see.  The coach knows that things could be better if some changes are made. The coach is honest with the team, he challenges them to do things differently, he works with them to be the best they can be. There’s no value in the coach telling the players they’re doing great, if they’re not. That doesn’t help them, and that’s not his role.

And it’s not mine either.

A different perspective

As a coach, I’m here to help you see things from a different perspective, and work with you as you create your transformations. Because, just like in sports, however hard the cheerleaders and coaches work, ultimately the players are the only ones who can change how the game will turn out.

If you would like to find out if life coaching is for you then please feel free to get in touch for an intial chat.

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