I can no longer ignore the fact that some of you may be wondering why the words Life Coach precede the words Spirit, Body and Mind at the top of my blog page. Life Coaching is a new career field that has opened up in recent years and I am, in fact, a certified Life Coach. I chose to get my certification with the Certified Coaches Federation (CCF).
However, Life Coaching is something that I have been doing for years. I just didn’t call it that or realize that I was doing that until late last year. That’s when I “God-incidentally” received an email through an unknown source that introduced me to CCF. I contacted them to make inquiries about the certification course they offered and that was when I recognized that most of what they taught I already knew and practiced. I just didn’t have certification in the specific field.
I have already mentioned in previous blogs that I made a serious life change about thirty years ago. This entailed much work on myself, changes in attitudes and behavior, in other words a major lifestyle change. As a result of all of the above, I opened my heart, my mind, and my soul to many opportunities that I would otherwise have never seen. I opened many doors that I had previously ignored and began to live a very full and rich life and continue to do so to this present moment.
I explored many paths on the road back to the religion of my childhood – Catholicism. However, the practice of my religion is only one aspect of my spirituality. Along the way I opened myself to being there for others, becoming part of the CREDO retreat team in Naples, Italy and also becoming a facilitator for a class called NADSAP. This acronym stood for Navy Alcohol Drug Safety Action Program, which was later known as Navy Alcohol Drug and Substance Abuse Program. I believe that today this program carries yet another acronym and name which I do not know.
In order to undertake these roles I had to go through both programs as a willing participant then undertake paraprofessional training. They were both fairly stringent and involved a lot of personal growth and continued maintenance training each year. I will not go into the details of those trainings but I can tell you the skills that we came out with were highly developed in the following areas: active listening, empathy, compassion, tracking, objective feedback, personal disclosure, non judgmentalism, personality recognition, and genuineness.
So let’s get back to Life Coaching. What is it? And why do people need a Life Coach. If you think about a sports team, whether they are good or bad, they got to where they are with the help of a coach, maybe many coaches. The coach is there to assess the teams strengths and weaknesses, to see where they stand right now, and to look at what they can do to achieve future goals. He or she is there to make sure they don’t get stuck.
And so it is with an individual person who is attempting to navigate the oceans of life. Why can’t the team or the individual see that and work to change things without the help of a coach you may ask? The best answer to that question may be because they are all too emotionally close to the the issue/s at hand. In other words they can’t see the forest for the trees, or vice versa.
This is where the coach comes in. However, there is one big difference between a sports team coach and a Life Coach. A sports team coach, once he/she has made all the necessary assessments, then makes a plan and gives instructions as to what the team has to do. A Life Coach creates a professional rapport with the client from which he or she can then help the client recognize where they are at and what goals they want to achieve. Then through the skilful use of uniquely created tools, the Life Coach will encourage the client to take action to achieve their goals.
Life Coaching is most definitely a process which involves a commitment from both parties – the coach and the client. And when I say a commitment I mean a signed-on-the-dotted-line-contract kind of commitment. This creates a professional relationship between the two parties. The coach commits to be there fully and intentionally for the client, and the client commits to stick with the coach for a specified amount of time in order to reach his or her goals.
The main idea behind Life Coaching is to help people to recognize and break through their self-imposed limitations and to identify and achieve goals, dreams, and aspirations that will improve and enhance their lives, their careers, and their relationships. The coach never tells the client what to do. The coach is there to actively and objectively listen, to empower, and then to encourage the client along his or her path.
The beauty of Life Coaching is that it does not “brain wash” or take away from the client’s unique ideas, nor does it seek to interfere with or change their personality. The coach becomes a “companion walker in life” if you will, however the client has to take his or her own footsteps.
Another unique aspect of Life Coaching is that you do not have to be face-to-face with the client to do effective coaching. In fact much Life Coaching is done over the telephone. My personal preference is to have at least one initial face-to-face session with the client and then move to telephone sessions if that proves to be a convenient method for the client to be coached.
Life Coaching is a very satisfying career. It is a privilege indeed when someone asks me to enter their life. My sense of wonder increases a thousand fold as I watch a client’s sense of wonder at themselves increase through the coaching process. I find that it is an honor to help someone to recognize their personal beauty, worth, and potential as they explore their relationships, their place on this earth, and the value that they can bring to anything they put their mind to.
If you are a regular reader of my entries, you will know that I have just been through a brief (thank God) tough time. It spanned no more than two weeks and, compared to say, someone facing a cancer and chemo diagnosis, or someone involved in a long recovery from a really bad accident, it was just a blip on the horizon of life. That didn’t make going through it any easier.
Just yesterday, in the reading from one of my daily meditational books, Linda Picone wrote, “Tough times can make us stronger and wiser. Knowing this doesn’t really make tough times any easier, though – at least not while we’re going through them. But it’s worthwhile to remind ourselves often of this truth. Of course, we get stronger not simply because we go through tough times, but because we call upon our best selves to find our way through them. We draw on our humor, patience, courage, and other qualities and, in doing so, learn the power of inner resources.”
I totally agree. However, just based on my personal experience in life, I think there are two strong ingredients missing from the above recipe: prayer (which, for me anyway, indicates a turning to God, a higher Spiritual Being); and asking for help.
My dear daily companion (in book form at least!), Max Lucado, talks about habits that we should develop. He recommends four habits that are worth engaging in on a regular basis to help us grow in our spiritual life. The very first of these is prayer. I cannot agree strongly enough with this statement. Since developing my prayer habit my life has definitely changed for the better but, more importantly, I have changed for the better.
I have written a couple of blogs on the subject of prayer (Prayer: A Tool Of Spirituality and Sacred Riding: My Harley Prayer Time), but I’m sure that I could write a whole book about it and the difference that prayer has made in my life. So when I hit tough times today an instinctual reaction for me is to pray.
Even though I am fully aware of “Mr. Censor” (see my blog Musings: Life And Lemons) snarling away in the corner of my mind, “I don’t want to make lemonade!” (or pray, or help someone, etc…), prayer is my first line of defense against whatever difficulties life chooses to hurl at me. It is on these occasions that I get down on my knees physically or mentally and I ask God to help me through.
And there is that second ingredient that I referred to – asking for help. One of my biggest human deformities is pride. “Human deformities” sounds so much more intellectual and suave than “sin”, doesn’t it? (Did I mention that I suffer from pride?) However, I’ve learned not to beat myself up about this seeming lack in my otherwise perfect character (did I mention that I suffer from pride?), because I realize that 95% of the human race has difficulty asking for help, and I’m so close to being in that other 5%. (Did I mention that I suffer from pride?)
Over the years, and with a lot of assistance from God and myriads of angels that He has sent across/along my path, I have slowly managed to arrive at a point where I can usually ask for help from others before being forced to my knees by the weight of whatever cross I am bearing. This has usually saved me a lot of heartbreak and loss of wasted energy.
Asking for help also brings me to right size and helps me put my problem into perspective in the bigger scheme of things. When I ask another for help, I am admitting (finally!) to myself and to others that I don’t have all the answers. I am acknowledging that I am not the “be all and end all” of the universe, which in turn allows me to chip away at my pride and acquire a little humility. I am also offering to someone else the opportunity to come out of themselves and to do something good for another. It is a win-win situation.