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Choosing Your Life Coach

Success is simply never giving in to failure – either in mind or body.” ― Steve Backley, The Champion in all of Us: 12 Rules for Success

You want to have a personal life coach but don’t really know how to make sure that you select the right one.

The article below gives some advice to ensure that you select the right life coach to give you the best results in your life.

How to Choose a Personal Life Coach – By Bill Burridge

coaching isWith increasing regularity nowadays, I find myself getting enquiries from people asking how they should go about choosing a life coach.

Of course, being in the business of training people to be great life coaches, I find it very gratifying to know that the demand for personal coaching services is growing rapidly in my native South Africa. But it’s hardly surprising, given the unquestionable power that coaching has to transform lives.

A few years ago, while I was still in corporate life, the concept of executive coaching was gaining in popularity. Companies felt it entirely appropriate to hire coaches for their most senior executives and even some of their middle managers in important roles. After all, the benefits of even a small improvement in divisional performance would render the cost of coaching quite trivial.

The rise of personal coaching

Until comparatively recently, personal coaching – or life coaching – was largely the domain of wealthy celebrities in the US. Nowadays, many people around the world are enjoying the benefits of having their own personal coach to assist them in achieving what might otherwise remain poorly defined and elusive goals and dreams.

How to choose?

The law of supply and demand dictates that as the demand for personal coaching services rises, so will the supply. The key question, then, for many individuals already convinced of the benefits of coaching, is: “How do I choose the coach that’s just right for me?”

My advice would be to make your choice in four simple steps, applying four ‘filters’ to ensure you get the best match for you.

1. Demographic matching

The first and relatively easy step is what I call “matching the demographics”.

If you’re set on face-to-face coaching then you’ll need someone who you can reach within a reasonable traveling distance. Now, before I move on, let me assure you that being coached by telephone (Skype is very popular for those with broadband internet because it is a free service) is an option that you should not discount lightly. Believe it or not there are actually a number of benefits to being coached by ‘phone – but that’s a topic for a separate article.

If you work best with people of your own – or the opposite – gender, then this too will influence your choice.

There are many excellent, vibrant and surprisingly wise young coaches around, but you may feel uncomfortable with having a coach who is half your age. Alternatively, as a young person, you might prefer to have a coach that has extensive life experience to draw on; someone who’s ‘been there and done that’!

Coaching fees come into the equation too, of course. But if possible, I would encourage you not to restrict the field by applying this filter right up front.

Look past the advertised fees, if you can. Find the ideal match using the steps I have outlined and then negotiate with your preferred coach if you need to, to fit your budget.

Many coaches are negotiable and some will offer substantial discounts if the client is prepared to pay for the entire coaching program in advance. My advice is to look at what you will pay over, say six months, and then consider how worthwhile that will be if you achieve one or two of your most desired goals.

2. Niche matching

The next step is more difficult. I call it “matching the niche”.

Let me ask you this: If you own a house that is built out of timber on the side of a steep hill and you decide to add an extension with an overhanging deck, who would you be more likely to contract with; a general builder – or a builder who specializes in timber homes and cantilevered decking?

When you hire a life coach, you generally do so with a knowledge of the key issues or areas of your life you specifically want to focus on improving. And it may well be that you’ll find a life coach whose specialist niche matches perfectly.

I recommend to all coaches who want to build substantial and self-sustaining practices that they choose a niche market based on their underlying skills and passionate interests.

I know of life coaches who have been very successful focusing on niches like ‘personal empowerment’, ‘intimate relationships’, ‘self-confidence’, ‘youth development’, ‘career building’, ‘retirement’, ‘financial freedom’, ‘childbirth’, and so on.

3. Skills matching

OK, so once you’ve decided on a rough demographic profile of your ideal coach and the niche (if any) that you fall into, you can move on to step 3. I call this “matching the skills”, although this is about more than just skills.

Remember that there is, at least currently, no form of regulation governing the coaching ‘profession’ in South Africa, or, for that matter, most developed countries.

To my mind this is a good thing in that there are no barriers to entry into an industry where having a passion for people and a gift for helping others achieve their dreams is far more important than a raft of high-falluting academic qualifications.

On the other hand it is also a bad thing in that any ‘Tom’, ‘Dick’ or ‘Harriet’ can write ‘coach’ on his or her business card and set up in practice without necessarily having the skills, techniques, experience and structure required to back up their coaching.

Now, I firmly believe that good quality life coaches are self-selecting. As a life coach you won’t survive long in business without good word-of-mouth endorsements and client testimonials. You’re either really effective at helping people transform their lives – or you’re not!

And this is my point. Always ask any prospective coach for testimonials or references – and check them out. Ask the coach where and in what method they have been trained. Ask to see their certification and do some research on the coach training provider to check their reputation.

How passionate are the coaches you are considering about the calling they have chosen? Are they registered with any body that promotes ongoing coach development? Do they subscribe to any relevant code of ethics?

4. Vibrational matching

The final step is, I think, the most important of all. I call it “matching the vibration”.

Choosing the ‘right’ (as opposed to ‘good’) coach is, arguably, a more important decision than choosing the ‘right’ doctor or dentist. Whereas a ‘good’ doctor will make the correct diagnosis and prescribe effective medication without necessarily doing it in a way that has you warming to him or her, a ‘good’ coach (i.e. a well trained, equipped and ethical coach) with whom you are unable to build a great rapport, will be unlikely to do much for you.

Rapport is vital to the coaching relationship. Establishing an emotional bond with your coach based on mutual liking and respect, trust, and belief in each other, is the foundation for the achievement of great things through coaching.

Great coaches will have that something special that allows them to empower their clients to go well beyond the normal and yet still be compassionate and caring in their approach.

How do you establish whether there’s a ‘vibrational match’ with your coach? Great coaches worth their salt will offer a free first session that may range from a basic introduction to a client assessment to a full blown goal-setting session in some cases. This is a great opportunity to see if you and your coach are an ideal match.

Coaches need coaches

A final thought. If you’ve ever doubted the power of coaching, think about this. Every great coach will tell you that the one thing crucial to their success is having their own personal coach!

So there you have it.

Bill Burridge is a South African entrepreneur with 27 years of corporate experience. His company, New Insights Africa, is dedicated to developing a network of high quality, independent life coaches, inspired to bring personal freedom, confidence and growth to people from all walks of life in South Africa. The company’s core product is a unique, high quality, home study certification program in life coaching.

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Michael Wilkovesky

To discuss what a life coach can do for you and your motivation, and to schedule a session with Michael, use the contact form below.

Michael is a certified Life Optimization coach as well as a Law of Attraction and Law of Attraction Wealth coach.