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Tips for choosing a life coach

In my last installment, I explored the growing phenomenon of life coaching in today’s fast-changing world. One of the issues coming out of my last installment was the ability of life coaches to help clients in coming up with appropriate mechanisms to cope with the challenging environment.

People Management Issues

There is overwhelming evidence that life coaching contributes immensely to the performance of the individuals, in their own right or as organisations. This is because ordinarily individuals cannot perform at personal best performance (PBP) on their own and the intervention of a life coach would push the actual performance (AP) to levels close to the potential performance (PP). From a human development point of view, it is encouraging to note that Zimbabweans are gradually embracing the philosophy of life coaching

Two basic rules

To start with, there are two basic rules for hiring a coach. First, make sure you are ready and willing to be coached. Second, you should choose a coach whom you want to work with, regardless of who in the organisation or family initiated the engagement. Willingness and good chemistry are by far the most frequently cited ingredients of a successful coaching relationship.

If a coach cannot tell you what methodology he uses — what he does and what outcomes you can expect — show him the door.

For instance, they must demonstrate clarity of your business mission, vision, values, principles and objectives and the ultimate goal. This same approach applies to personal coaches as well. A qualified coach should be fast to establish or help you come up with a clear, pragmatic vision, mission and goal.

Be clear on issues

Be wary of coaches, who claim that they can solve anything from helping you lose weight to coping with a divorce to planning your own small business. Certification is very important because life coaching is a profession that requires very specific skills, conduct standards, and a foundation of training, which is only taught in qualified schools.

Ask yourself what area you are looking to improve or move forward with in your life?

Are you looking for happiness? Are you in need of improving your health? Are you interested in developing your leadership and management skills? When you are specific and clear about your goals, it is easier to find a personal life coach who can guide you. Please also note that life coaching is different from counselling.

Counselling and coaching

Put simply, counselling normally focuses on the past by trying to help someone to recover from past traumatic experiences whilst coaching focuses on the present and future. The objective of counselling is to help people address and resolve problems that make them feel bad emotionally, or are impairing their ability to function well. This can include healing from anxiety, depression, mood disorders, trauma, issues with their family of origin, their relationships, addictions and many other common problems.

It is understood that unless and until these problems are resolved, it will be difficult for people to make significant changes in their lives. Conversely, coaching helps one to be aware of his or her present status and develop appropriate mechanisms of exploiting the situation to your advantage. In a way it gives one a new outlook and the willingness to exploit the new perspective. So the objective of coaching is to help people achieve their goals.

The basic presumption of coaching is that a client is in a good place mentally and emotionally, and ready to receive guidance and instruction on how to make changes that will help him/her achieve his/her goals. The work focuses on creating and maintaining motivation for change, exploring obstacles to change, and creating plans for change.

So, how do you go about finding a terrific life coach who is just right for you? When shopping for a coach, there are three very important things to look for:

Certification: Not all people who call themselves life coaches are certified by an accredited professional school, nor are they even true coaches for that matter. In fact, most self-proclaimed life coaches are neither.
Certification is very important, because life coaching is a profession that requires very specific skills, conduct standards, and a foundation of training, which is only taught in qualified schools. Regardless of what some may try to tell you, life experience and other types of experience or training are simply not enough. Would you hire a psychologist who did not have formal training? The requirement for certification includes over 300 hours of rigorous training, including approximately 100 hours of live training. Face-to-face live training is essential to truly grasp and practice the fundamentals of in-depth, breakthrough coaching. Some schools train strictly by telephone and most others offer online training with minimal amount of actual coaching practice. This does not offer the coach enough opportunity to transform himself or herself before embarking on transforming others.

An effective coach will have happy and satisfied clients who, after contracting the services of the coach, have made significant changes in their lives. Note: when asking for references make sure the people have actually been coached by the coach. Some people give references of friends or people that they have worked with in some unrelated manner. Check references. Do you like the results they have achieved with their other clients? Are those the types of results you are looking for? While results will vary on the individual, you can see what the coach values. If the coach has a list of clients who made their first million and that is your goal, then it may be the perfect fit. If you are looking for more inner peace, a list of people who have made millions might not be the right coach for you. Other coaches may assist in delivering inner peace and financial abundance.(Yes, you can have both)

A Good match: An effective coach for one person may not be a good match for another. Personal chemistry is important. To find a good match, it is best to speak directly with your potential coach and ask for a sample session. You will want to be sure you feel comfortable enough with your coach to develop the deep trust so necessary for breakthrough coaching. Well trained coaches are always willing to spend time speaking with you on the phone, answering your questions and addressing your concerns.

Mandeya is a senior executive training consultant and communication in management advisor, a personal coach in leadership and professional development with the Institute of Leadership Research and Development. — mandeyarobert@yahoo.com, mandeyarobert@gmail.com. The views contained herein are personal.

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