The Awesome Responsibilities of a Life Coach
One of the first questions a student asks about life coaching typically is this: "Is it hard?" That question may be a little difficult to answer. Most life coaches do not find it hard. At least, they do not find it hard while they are coaching a client because they have taught themselves to be wholly and completely involved in the coaching process and do not allow outside thoughts to interfere.

However, if they allow themselves to become distracted by personal thoughts, then they find it difficult to focus on the needs of their client.

Another concern, at first, is that they are afraid that if they do not help their client to be successful, it is their fault.

Once they realize that as long as they did the very best they could for their client, his or her success was fully in their own hands, that concern fades. That realization is difficult, however. Most people allow themselves to define their success or failure as a coach on how their clients perform. This article is about responsibilities, to yourself and to your clients

Responsibilities to Yourself

As a life coach, you are solely and completely responsible for your life. It must be authentic and well ordered. Your own life absolutely must be in order for you to be an effective coach. If you are coaching someone on how to keep her or his office in order, yours cannot be a study in messy chaos.

Do you hold yourself to a realistic standard? This means that you need to be reasonable in your expectations of yourself. By setting impossibly high standards, you are bound to fail and you will discover that your clients will fail, too.

Your responsibilities to yourself include your vision to be larger than just yourself and your life. Most of us are caught up in day-to-day living without any clear sense of a purpose, a calling, or a passion.

You must evaluate what gets you excited and enthusiastic. There is a saying that you should find what you would like to do for the rest of your life without making money at it. Many volunteer programs are successful for this very reason. People volunteer because something about the cause speaks to them and they are willing to do big jobs without money. Not every volunteer experiences this, but put a volunteer to work using his or her specific talents and abilities appropriately and you will have given that individual a very powerful start on life.

What would you do if you never had to worry about money ever again? Look beyond the obvious answers like travel, a new house, car, or boat. The novelty of material things eventually will wear out. Here is the question is to ask: "What would you do?"

If the answer is to coach people, you are in the right class.

Responsibilities to Your Client

Interested in learning more? Why not take an online Life Coaching course?

You have established that you have an overwhelming need, passion, and desire to coach. What do you need then to bring to your coaching clients?

A coach must be cheerful, encouraging, and optimistic. You have to be able to put your own worries aside, even pretend that you have no worries, so that you can really be present to your client.

Of the characteristics needed in a coach, being attentive is the most important one. Being attentive to your client means you must clear your mind of absolutely everything that could interfere with the coaching session. You cannot think about what you are having for dinner tonight, whether your husband is irritated with you, or whether that check is going to clear.before or after a payment goes through.

Having all this kind of chatter going on in your head will prevent you from being totally and completely attentive to your client. Most people have never in their lives experienced that kind of attentive experience. People talk about Jackie Kennedy Onassis and former President Bill Clinton as having just this kind of attentive nature. It is said that you could be in a room with 200 people, but when you were talking with either Jackie or Bill, they had eyes and ears only for you. Very few people naturally have this gift. It is an ability that can be cultivated, and must be cultivated if you are going to be a coach.

Answer the following questions:
  • What do I want out of life?
  • What effect do I want to have on those around me? On the world?
  • What makes me special?
  • What am I doing now in my life that makes use of my talents and abilities?
  • What do I wish to achieve at some point in the future?
  • How will I be different in 10 years?
  • How will my family be different? My community? The world?

Do you think that you can do the following things?

  • Are you cheerful, encouraging, and optimistic?
  • Can you put your own worries aside and pretend that you have none?
  • Are you attentive and able to listen with your entire being?
  • Can you see talents and abilities in others?
  • Can you see the worth of others without judgment?
  • Can you help people find and develop their talents?

Do you know how to do that? Ask questions. One of the strongest strengths of a life coach is the ability to ask penetrating questions.

To help clients find and develop their talents, you would ask the following questions:
  • Ask them what they wanted to be when they grew up versus what they are. Then ask why.
  • Ask what they enjoyed most in school and which subjects they did the best in.
  • Ask them what they see as their specific talent or strength.
  • Ask when they feel most comfortable and at peace.
  • Ask what others ask them to do on a regular basis.
  • Ask what is easy for them.
  • Ask what is unique about them.
  • Have them list their achievements. Most people will avoid doing this, perhaps because of a skewed sense of modesty. Your job is to prevent them from diminishing their abilities.

Help them see their personal passion that will help them through the times of struggle.

Therapy Looks Behind; Coaching Looks Ahead

. It is an important enough topic that we will refresh your memory about it. The reason for this is that you must understand the fine line you walk between helping someone take control of his or her life and offering therapeutic advice. If you do not have the appropriate degree, you cannot act as a trained counselor. By asking questions and inviting your clients to look into their lives and into themselves for the answers, you are encouraging them to improve themselves.

Therapy is looking into your past to identify where problems come from. A therapist is someone who is above you, an expert, a person who should have all the answers to the problem or questions you have.

Coaching is looking at the present and the future. You and your client are standing side by side, shoulder to shoulder, looking at the same problem and discussing the best way to approach it.

A coach is encouraging, empathetic, and compassionate.

Your job as a coach is to help your clients find their passion in life and seek ways to incorporate it into their lives. You also will help them find any negativity in their lives and help them eliminate it. Your job is to help your clients see ways to change what is unsatisfactory, hold them accountable for those changes, and then bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be.

Develop a Plan
Change is not an immediate process. Here are some steps to consider:
  1. Define what your client wants or needs.
  2. Create a plan on how to get there.
  3. Support your client on her or his journey to that goal.

In order to be a successful coach, you must believe the following:

  1. People have the answers to their own problems.
  2. People have the power to change and make their goal a reality.
  3. People can achieve their goals and dreams.

You will believe these things and be an effective coach. Your own personal experience stories will aid in your coaching sessions with your clients. By taking stock of the ways you make these changes in your life, you will be able to use yourself as an example for your client.

Becoming an Expert on Life
  • Bridging the Gap: How can you help your clients bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be? The easiest way is to manage the "I can'ts" and change them to "I cans." You work with them to decrease their tendency to self-sabotage. Most people who are unsuccessful at something have entered into inappropriate behavior that actually sabotages their chances of success. You help them to realize their dreams and aspirations rather those of their parents or someone else who has placed expectations on them.
  • Secret Desires: Do you have secret desires? Are you handling them appropriately? Coaching requires that you mirror your behavior as a model for your client. When you do not do what you are having your client do, it is very hard to hold your client accountable. Are you unhappy with your position in life? What are you doing about it? Share this story with your client.
  • Authentic: Being a life coach means being authentic and truthful. You do not want to hide behind a list of lies so that your client will think well of you. You want to be working toward your happiness, and you share your experiences with your client.
  • Focus: Do you have the ability to focus? You will need to help your clients see into the future and define what they want out of life, establish goals, and then set about making a plan to achieve those goals. You will focus on values and desires as you set those goals.
  • Sounding Board: Your role as a life coach also is to be a sounding board. In this way, you provide a very safe place for your clients to verbalize their goals. Many people never have really had a safe place to actually say their goals out loud. Too many people are afraid of what their partner is going to say or think; many young people are afraid of what their parents or other relatives are going to say or think about their chosen path in life. As a life coach, you present a valuable service because you are not in a position to make judgments. You are there only to be present to your clients and listen to them verbalize their goals and dreams.
  • Intent: The next step is to then encourage your clients to show intent to work on their goals and dreams. Your clients need to be shown how to take the next step, then how to act on each step that takes them where they need to go. Along the way, they will share their secret fears and dreams with you safely because they know you are there to encourage, not judge.
  • Track progress: You will work with your clients to reflect on where they have been and then stop and look back to see how far they have come. You will help clients to organize their thoughts from the clutter of chaotic ideas, help identify actual choices, and then help them choose.
  • Mirroring Behavior: If you were to cut the back of your own hair without a mirror, you could do it, but you probably would not like it. Similarly, you will be that mirror for your clients, showing them the parts they cannot see very well. A coach serves as a mirror to his or her clients. You help your clients see what they want in life, even through the confusion of the decision-making process. The ability to mirror behavior is why your own life must be in order to be the most effective coach possible.
  • Belief: Do you have the ability to really believe in your client? Most people who have really excelled at something had a parent, a teacher, or a coach somewhere in their past who really believed in their capabilities far more than they ever did. As a coach, this is one of your most important jobs. My coach had superb success at one of her jobs in a dating company because the company had never before had anyone who listened so intently and believed so completely in the personal ability to make a change. The clients never before had had anyone who was so into them. It was a new experience for them. Her belief in her clients caused them not only to reach their initial goals, but those results began to seep into other parts of their lives. This experience gave the coach the information she needed to create her own unique coaching program. It was proof that by fixing small things in one's life, larger shifts occur easily and naturally.
  • Shoulder to shoulder: You help your clients pick a direction, but again from the shoulder-to-shoulder position. You do not tell them what to do. You never say, "You should do." Rather, you ask questions: "What do you think would be one step you could take to make that happen?" "Is there something you are doing or you are not doing that is keeping you from your goal?"
  • Accountability: This is a pretty important step. Many people know and understand the necessary steps when it comes to setting goals. What they lack is someone holding them accountable for those steps. It is this accountability issue that helps so many people to finally accomplish a big task. By holding your client accountable, you are helping your client continue to believe in herself or himself; gently encouraging her or him to take that next step, even if it might seem somewhat painful.
  • Validation and Recognition: This is something our society lacks. Many people never are recognized for something they did, and they never feel validated that something they did took some effort. It is up to you as their coach to cheer them on and then celebrate all accomplishments. Coaches have a saying: "Celebrate all wins." It does not matter how big or how small an accomplishment is. By taking the time to stop and recognize it, even if that only means checking it off a list and saying, "Well done," you are teaching yourself to be successful.
  • Lost Dreams: Help your client see that lost dreams equal lost time. By not working to achieve goals and dreams, we slowly squander our lives away. This is a really good place to start asking questions, such as, "Why didn't you go for that goal?" Ask questions, discover the real truth behind a failure. Was it fear? Was it lack of courage? Do not settle for pat answers, justifications, or excuses. Keep asking questions until your client finally discovers the real answers.