What's all this about Life Coaching then?
We are in a 24/7 'on demand' world. We need to be creative yet conforming, work 'smart' while juggling other commitments, be flexible yet meet deadlines. We need to be adaptable, approachable team players, while achieving our individual goals. We need to be efficient, effective managers in all areas of our lives if we are going to pull ourselves together without holding up our hands and saying "Enough". How do you juggle all these demands and remain motivated and focused and in control?
Enter Coaching! In a business context, people choose to work with coaches to support them in achieving an acceptable work/life balance for a number of reasons, but the common theme is change. In a Life context, the situations are just more personally focused than professionally focused - relationships, money, spirituality, wellbeing and those kinds of things. Each person has their own unique agenda, set of challenges, aspirations, ideals and goals. There is no one prescription for trying to work everything out - in many cases you probably even know within yourself what you need to do to make the changes that will improve your individual situation - but there will always be something more pressing to deal with, meaning what you want gets pushed to the back of the queue.
Coaching helps you to focus on what you want to achieve, and helps you "sort out" and bring to the front of the queue the things which are actually most important to you. A coach works with you, using questions that help you to define and meet your needs. You come up with the solutions. After all, you are the one who knows what the best answers are for you.
Don't think this is a soft option though. Coaching can be pretty demanding at times, as you are helped to weigh up your real values and priorities and challenged by your coach to make decisions that will move you forward to achieve your goals and make those important changes. Your coach will listen to you - really listen - not just to what you are saying and how you are saying it, but what you are not - and will keep you on track and accountable for your actions. Without wishing to sound overly dramatic, the truth about you will emerge.
This is done in a safe and confidential environment, where you are given time and space to think, talk and be listened to. You are not judged - you look at your actions by your own standards and no-one else's. It is a surprisingly powerful process.
Does some of this just sound like common sense? Fair enough. But then what is the saying about common sense? That it's not common and it does beg the questions, why do I have trouble making the right choices and decisions for myself? Why don't I feel like I am achieving all I want to? Why do I seem to achieve so much more when I have consistent personal support to help me?
There is something unique about the relationship between a coach and a client that makes you focus and achieve in ways that you might not manage on your own. It has a lot to do with the fact that your coach is impartial, and completely focused on you. Their attention won't be diverted by what they, or anyone else think you should be doing. They are totally focused on helping you to look at all your options and make the right choices for your life.
Coaching can benefit anyone and everyone, from Accountants to Zoologists, young people to old and everyone in between. It is most effective for people who are ready to participate in their own development and commit to a process - it's like anything in life, if you don't want to do it, you won't get the best out of it.
Coaching can be delivered either face to face or by telephone and sessions usually last between 45 minutes and an hour, and take place either weekly or fortnightly. This means that it's easy for busy schedules to accommodate coaching - wherever you are in the world you can still be coached and keep on track with your goals.
As a result of coaching you will achieve more and be more focused. Coaching delivers improved reasoning and problem solving skills, sharpened analytical and innovative thinking ability, as well as improved communication skills, creativity, smarter working and flexibility
If you are interested in working with a coach, then it is vital to make sure you are working with the right coach, not only so that you are confident that you are getting the best coaching available, but also that you are comfortable with them, and their style. After all, you are going to be working closely together on some really personal issues. It makes sense therefore to check out your coaches credentials before you hire them as well.
Be sure to ask about:
- Training - How long was the coach's training? Who trained them? How - was it a mixture of practical and theoretical work?
- Accreditation - who has accredited the training? Did the training company internally accredit it, or were credits gained from an external qualifying body
- Professional Status - Is the coach supported in their practice by membership of professional coach organisation?
- Ongoing Learning - Does the coach have to undertake Continuous Professional Development in order to maintain their professional memberships? How does the coach stay up to date with developments and new learning in the Profession?
- Code of Conduct - Is the coach bound by a code of conduct that demonstrates how they will behave with their clients, and the nature and scope of their role?
- Ethics - Are they able to access confidential support services such as an Ethics Committee?
- Coaching Agreement - Do they have a coaching agreement process? This clarifies when and how the coaching will be delivered, any agreement you may have reached about what the coaching will include, and will also define anything else that you have discussed and agreed.
- Experience - How long has the coach been in practice? Does the coach understand your situation? It is not essential for a coach to know about your particular job or work environment, but if they have experience in business themselves or coaching other business people, you may feel more comfortable with them.
About The UK College of Life Coaching
The College is a membership organisation, and its main roles are:
- Training - The College supports those who wish to pursue coaching training either for personal development, to become practising life or corporate coaches, or for the development and use of coaching skills in the workplace or everyday life.
- Membership - Members are students or graduates of the Certificate or Diploma courses, or simply those with an interest in the development of Coaching. The College supports members through study of coaching to qualified status with training and practical assistance in developing a career. The College hosts regular National Exchange meetings, supports the development of Regional Coaching Exchanges for local membership support, and delivers seminars, lectures and events to support the ongoing learning and development of coaches.
- Professional Development - The College supports its members' ongoing learning, but retains an interest in the national and international growth and development of the profession. By contributing to empirical research studies, advocating professional standards, ethics and adoption of Codes of Practice, attending - and even organising - National and International Conferences, Seminars and Workshops, The College ensures that its learning and development is of the highest level and that it is a strong voice in the development of the profession.
By Mags Rivett
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