My Experience with Coaching
A few years ago I had my first experience with coaching. I was looking for direction in my career and life. After a lot of prayer, searching and more than a fair share of frustration, I came in contact with a Christian Life Coach.
Every week to two weeks I had a phone conversation with my coach to talk about my life. My experience in coaching helped clarify my goals, desires and future. It also helped eliminate some career options I was considering at the time. Eventually, it led to me writing my first book.
As much as I gained from my coaching experience, I know that I would have benefited even more if I had a clearer understanding of what coaching was and was not. It would have saved me a considerable amount of time, money, energy and even pain in the process.
I want to share with you some highlights about what coaching is and is not so that you can better decide if it is the right next step for your life.
Let’s start with five things that coaching is…
1. Coaching is Present & Future Focused
Picture three buckets. On each bucket is a sign. One reads, “Past”. The other “Present” and the third, “Future”. Coaching is primarily focused on looking into the two buckets titled “Present” and “Future”. Coaching is a process that helps you look where you are today and chart the course for the future ahead. In his book, Christian Coaching, Gary R. Collins, PhD writes, “Coaching is the art and practice of enabling individuals and groups to move from where they are to where they want to be.”
2. Coaching is Possibility Focused
The world is full of critics, doubters, dream killers and naysayers. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone come alongside you who actually believed in you? A good coach will approach your situation with a “can do” attitude and be focused on the possibilities of what could be, not on all the reasons things cannot work.
- Coaching is Solution Oriented
Every meaningful goal or vision will have problems, stumbling blocks and hurdles. The good news is that every problem has an answer, every stumbling block has a path around, over, under or above it. Every hurdle can be overcome. Coaching helps you to focus on the solutions to your problems not the problems themselves.
- Coaching is Self-Directed
The term “coach” can mean different things in different contexts. A football coach, for example, comes to the game with a plan in place. The players are expected to follow the plan. In life and career coaching, the person being coached sets the agenda for the meeting, not the coach. It is the coach’s role to take the initial lead of the person being coached and then help them navigate a path forward.
- Coaching is Action-Oriented
The coaching process involves a lot of thinking and processing of ideas and options. But at the end of the day, or session to be more precise, a good coach will guide you to determine your next steps. Coaching is more than just dreaming and pie in the sky thinking. Coaching does involve dreaming and envisioning the future, but it also includes determining the steps for implementing the dream.
Now here are five things coaching is not:
- Coaching is Not Counseling
Counseling tends to focus on problems “such as depression, anxiety, inner turmoil, and conflicts with others.”  These issues of life are important to resolve, but they are not the focus of coaching. If you are primarily looking to overcome emotional barriers and hurts from your past, counseling is likely a better option for you than coaching.
- Coaching is not Focused on the Past
As mentioned above in what coaching is, coaching focuses primarily on the present and maybe even more so the future. A quote from the Apostle Paul gives a fairly accurate view of coaching’s direction. “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
Collins again writes, “Counseling focuses on problems and frequently considers the past. Coaching focuses on possibilities and looks at where people want to go in the future.”
- Coaching is Not Geared Towards Empathy, but rather Empowerment
In my upbringing, if I wanted to find empathy, care, compassion (or even the ability to wallow in some self-pity), I could always rely on the tender care of my mother. At times even in adult life I feel like I needed a shoulder to cry on. You may be in that place today. And if so, I empathize with your pain and struggle. The need for empathy and compassion in life is genuine, real and universally experienced. Thank God for tender Mothers, counselors and friends who make this hard life a little softer!
Back to my childhood, if I wanted a good, loving kick in the pants to help move me in the right direction, I would have a talk with my Dad or maybe my older brother. Sometimes, you need a person who cares for you, but shows it by intentionally pushing you forward and not allow you to make excuses or circular arguments to avoid change. Coaches are by no means people who lack empathy or compassion, it is just that they do not focus primarily on empathizing with their clients, but on empowering them to make life change.
- Coaching is not Going to Do the Work For You!
Please make sure you get this one very clear before moving forward! Coaching has the ability to empower, encourage and equip you to move forward in life, no doubt. But if you believe the coaching process or the coach is going to be the panacea to all of life’s problems, you are setting yourself up for a grave disappointment. A good coach can help bring clarity, direction and guidance to your life. It will then be up to you to take the next right steps to see your destiny come to pass.
- Coaching is not Advice Giving!
A lot of services are being touted as “coaching” these days that would be better termed as consulting, teaching or training. Do not misunderstand that consulting, teaching and training all have their place in life and are essential to learning and growth. However, a good coach is not going to give you advice! Instead, a coach is going to ask meaningful questions to help you find your own solutions. If you are looking for someone to tell you what to do, then just call up a friend or family member. From my experience, they tend to do that really well.
If however, you want to find someone who will come alongside you in the course of life to help you navigate your own journey, coaching may very well be for you. Coaches come to the table not looking to direct your future for you, but to be objective and non-directive regarding your life, circumstances, future and choices. Good coaches honor the client by allowing them to make and take full ownership of their choices.
“Pierre’s coaching is patient, humble, and insightful. I’m thankful for him, and I’m seeing real improvements in my life!”
Chris L., College Campus Missionary
“As my life coach, Pierre began by helping me to understand myself. We took a personal assessment of my strengths and weaknesses, and likes and dislikes. From that, Pierre began to ask open-ended questions about the type of person I desired to be and what—exactly—I was looking for. He gave me the tools and strategies I needed to explore all of the possibilities and to help me find the answers on my own. Most importantly, Pierre gave me a vision of how good my life can be, and now I work every day toward that vision and purpose for my life. I would highly recommend Pierre to people seeking to take their lives to the next level.”
Joe M., Client working through transition
Pierre Eade Christian Life Coach