The philosophy in life coaching is that the client knows the right answers for their own life. The life coach doesn’t try to solve the client’s problems for them, they work with brilliant techniques and skills to draw out what the client really wants for their own life. The brain is an excellent problem solver so when a person has a conversation about their problem, the recipient will often try to help solve the person’s problem by layering on advise based on their own personal experience. This is counter-intuitive to smart life coaching. A smart therapist will hear what is & what isn’t being said about the problem, and then navigate the clients mind until they have their own ‘aha’ problem-solving experience.
The life coaching journey can best be described like an actual journey where the client has an idea of where their destination is, but may need some guidance on choosing the right route. So when a client presents a challenge they are currently facing, the counsellor will instinctively understand that the destination may lie just beyond the challenge. Often, a client will walk in feeling confused about how to proceed forward, as the dynamics of their concern may seem complicated. It’s specifically at this point that the therapist will choose not to be the expert in the clients life and refrain from accepting the clients challenge as their own and thereby try solve the problem for them. Its as though the life coach knows the clients is the hero of their own movie and will win in the end. Its just about prompting, facilitating and engaging the client so they can do their best work and come out on top.
The only issue with the average person that faces a problem is that they only see what they are facing as a problem and nothing more. A therapist chooses to see problems like a challenge where you can learn and grow from the experience. Once this change of perspective happens, a new mindset can be created that will consider the “problem” with curiosity and an understanding that even though there may not be a resolution at that moment, that with time, effort and patience, a resolution may be found. Most of our problems can be solved one way or another. It’s just about finding the right resources that will help solve the problem and therefore rise up to the challenge.
When people are confronted with life’s hurdles, obstacles and challenges, they are having the experience inside the boundaries of the experience, whereas the counsellor will be able to view the experience from an outsiders perspective to help find blind spots, explore creative ideas and challenge limiting beliefs. We only know what we know so when we can challenge ourselves to discover more about ourselves, our level of wisdom and knowledge about our issues and ourselves will increase as a result. This is why it is so important for a client to be their own problem solver. As they say: “Nothing ventured. Nothing gained” It is crucial to gain something from the challenges that life throws at us. Just consider the last problem you successfully solved. The next time you are faced with the same or similar problem, you will be in the right position to easily solve it again because you grew from your previous experience.
Observation is a key component in the counselling conversation. This is where a counsellor conversation can be drastically different from a normal conversation. During a counselling conversation, the life coach will be acutely aware of what is being said, how it is being said, what is not being said and how the body is reacting to each step of the conversation. They say that we are like an open book. This is so true during a life coaching conversation because so much about the intention of the conversation comes through in subtle cues. To go into the nuances of body language and linguistics is not necessary for this article however.
A great therapist will metaphorically dance with the client during therapy and will let it flow where and how it needs to, by being inquisitive and curious about the subject matter that streams out at any one moment. This simple curious attitude points out the words, feelings and tones back to the client to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions.
A coaching conversation will dynamically move through the clutter to get to a point of relief and satisfaction. Positive psychology and therapy in coaching are closely aligned in this respect as both methods seek to find hope, inspiration and joy. The brain responds extremely well to positive emotions and tends to wake up the curious nature of creativity and the problem-solving abilities that come with it. Do you remember how rewarding it felt when you were inspired to create positive change in your life? So many things suddenly seemed possible, which made you feel empowered and awesome.
As a life coach, the strongest asset that one can have is curiosity. In this case curiosity didn’t kill any cat, it showed it some toys and watched it play. A curious mind doesn’t try to be the smartest in the room, it understands its limitations and therefore seeks to expand those limitations by adding wonder to its thought processes. A simple question of wonder that we take for granted is: “How are you?” When a therapist acts from a space of wonder it truly helps the client to feel heard and valued. It shows the client that the counsellor is open to what they have to say and compassionate to their needs and is termed “client-centered” (for obvious reasons). This is the reason why people will speak their mind and really open up to a life coach because they know they are in a safe environment.
A great coach will not assume to have all the answers, but will rather peak the clients interests toward their own problem by being able to view it differently, and then from that space ask intriguing questions about the problem to gain further insight into the defining characteristics of the problem, recognise any unseen forces at play and/or let the client play with possible solutions before creating an action plan. Problems often seem messy, complicated & un-fixable until they are scrutinised, picked apart and viewed from many different angles. This process is often enough to highlight the problem for what it really is and what may be getting in the way when considering a solution. The main objective is to gain clarity. Once a sense of clarity is established, the client can get on with approaching an actionable plan toward creating a solution.
The main objective is that it aims to help the client think differently. This is so important and such a great asset because for anyone to spontaneously think differently on their own is near impossible. A life coach will help their client tap into their own creative, problem-solving genius. To let them play with ideas, to be bold in their thought processes and let go of their limited thinking. Coaches allow their clients to “colour out the lines” without worrying about the repercussions. Coaches allow their clients to fail gloriously when they attempt something because to move forward in any way, even if it means temporary failure or setback is still a step in the right direction.
Thanks for reading,
Donovan – Life Coach