I speak often (with anyone who will listen!) of the gifts of coaching. There is a lot of confusion in the world about what coaching is and many people who call themselves coaches,  do not actually know themselves what coaching is. I think people are well meaning, however after so many years as a coach, putting in the years of training and the years of coaching thousands and thousands of hours, I am aware personally what a certified, experienced coach puts into developing their practice and hope that consumers will be able to see the difference.

As I said, I speak often about the gifts of coaching. I teach coach training, help to certify new coaches and coach new and experienced coaches who want to launch or grow their businesses. I have been active in the coaching world for 16 years.

I have never written about the gifts of coaching.  Something got me going this past wee and I followed my rule and let it settle for a few days before writing this post.

What got me going? A public figure with a LARGE following just came out with a “coaching” program. While I am inspired by the big thinking and the platform this person has grown, I feel compelled to make sure that people really understand coaching. Because if someone signs up for the program, they are going to think they are being coached. And they are not. It diminishes the value of coaching to say that something is coaching that is not. I will say this- the program is valuable for the learning- both in business and in life- I benefitted from the information. The person even refers to the people taking the program as students and to themselves as the teacher. And that is really the truth of what is happening.

Teaching is so valuable. Coaching is not teaching. Coaching is not telling. Coaching is not presenting.

What’s the difference?

Coaching involves the coach asking their client powerful questions to help them to tap into their own answers. There can be times when a coach with an expertise may slip into mentoring- which is more telling than asking, but only by agreement.

Coaching involves a coach working with a client or a client group in a coaching conversation.

Coaching involves working through something that the client (s) has chosen to work on, WITH the client- not by talking at them.

I could easily go on and on about the finer points of a coaching session, but you would definitely stop reading, so I will cut right to two very important things about coaching.

Coaching is about action and accountability.  It’s a relationship with your coach where you commit to taking action to your coach. Actions you will take following the session. And your coach will hold you accountable to what you said you would do- you and your coach.

The gift of coaching for me, is found in that special relationship where someone has their full attention on you, they are listening to you, they support you, believe in you, encourage you and are completely on your side. They help you to tap into your best, believe in yourself and help you to tap into all of the wisdom and answers you already have. And your coach will then ask you about your homework, the actions you committed to at your last session.

Most people make commitments to themselves and then when they don’t follow through, no one knows it but them.

When you work with a coach you will be much less likely not to follow through, much less likely to quit on your goals and dreams. Because someone who cares is going to ask you about it and do all of the other things I mentioned above.

Think about it- where in your life does something like I described happen? There is nothing else quite like coaching. It is a gift. And though other modalities are also valuable- please only call it coaching if it really is. Don’t call it coaching because it sounds snazzy and will bring in the masses.  Please only call yourself a coach if you have been trained and even better, certified, and maybe even credentialed by the ICF.

And for anyone considering hiring a coach: Coaching is not regulated, so please be thorough in your search for the right coach and ask questions. A great coach will welcome and even enjoy answering your questions. Because they will love talking about the gifts of coaching as much as I do.