I once had an acquaintance who loved to tell people what to do. I never asked her what to do, but I got told what to do more times than I can remember. She could use any opening as a way to fix your life. “What you need to do . . .” she’d start, and then she’d go on to prescribe a break-up, a diet, a new career, or a parenting method. I know she meant well, but the implication behind this unsolicited advice was, “You can’t manage your own life.”
A mutual friend once commented, “She would make a good life coach.”
I couldn’t help saying, “I disagree.”
While I’m sure there are people out there who would love to pay someone to tell them exactly what to do, in my opinion that’s not what good coaching looks like.
Life coaches do a lot of things. They help clients identify their goals; work together to develop a plan for achieving them; track their progress; assist them to uncover and release patterns that aren’t working; hold space for them to get to know themselves better; witness them in their strengths and weaknesses; hold them to their agreements; reflect on their communication style and explore ways to improve it; encourage a growth mindset; help them discover their gifts, values, and purpose; and more.
As I see it, a coach’s role is to help a person be the best version of themselves. Like teaching someone to fish versus simply giving them a fish, the highest goal for the client is personal evolution – not reliance on the coach’s advice.
The life coach who understands this is inevitably on the same path themselves. I’ve witnessed it through the years that we’ve been offering the Dragontree Life Coach training program. In the process of becoming a good coach, you learn so much that you want to apply to yourself. You’re naturally drawn to “walk your talk,” to embody the principles you use to guide others. You experience that when there’s coherence between how you live and how you coach, your coaching is more effective. And, over and over, you hear yourself say something to a client and a voice inside says, “I need to hear this too.”
The great coaches I’ve known find it tremendously gratifying to know they’re making a positive difference in their clients’ lives. And even while they can say, “I’m pretty good at this,” they have the humility that comes from having seen that the most brilliant transformations often resulted not from the times they told a client “I know what you need” but from the “I honestly don’t know” moments. They never stop learning and growing.
If you’d like to find a coach to help you be the best version of yourself, click here to browse our directory of Dragontree Life Coaching graduates.
Dr. Peter Borten