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Top Ten Myths About Life Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

dragons and castle

Myths are stories we tell that help us understand our world.

That's why we love them so much. Epic stories like Game or Thrones and Lord of the Ring capture our minds during our adolescence but never quite let us go. At their best, myths can for instance, make sense of the destructive behavior of a  leader who feels betrayed and alone (I'm thinking of you, Daenerys) and they may also help us understand real-life situations.

But there is another type of myth that makes us feel like we understand something new when we really don't and those myths spread like viruses to others who also don't get it. They become "truth-y" even when they truly are false. This is particularly true as our culture evolves because some folks evolve faster than others. Myths can keep those others stuck on the outside of something truly great, believing cynically that it's just a sham, or a fad, or the same old thing wearing a fancy new dress.

There are plenty of myths about life coaching because honestly, if you haven't experienced truly great coaching, you won't get it. You just won't. See below for examples. 

 

Here are Top Ten Life Coaching Myths:

 

  1. Coaching is a new form of therapy or counseling. When I first became a coach about a billion years ago, one of my relatives, who was studying to become a psychotherapist, told me I was practicing therapy without a license. Um, no. In fact, a landmark case was won at about that time which established coaching as a separate profession from therapy. After that, therapists seemed to take an, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," attitude toward coaching and today, many coaches are former therapists who love helping clients go from good to great and are thrilled to not have to deal with insurance companies to get paid. Even my relative eventually commended me on getting into coaching after it became the fastest growing job description worldwide. Good thing I didn't listen to her earlier criticisms!
  2. Coaching isn't a real profession. This was probably true thirty years ago, just as it was of every profession in its earliest days. Remember when your doctor used to "bleed" you with leeches? No? Probably that's because they stopped doing that more than a century ago. Thank God! My point is that all professions develop over time. They begin with a few talented practitioners. Then someone defines what they do and begins teaching it to others. Eventually professional organizations standardize ethical practices and identify credentials. Researchers begin studying the field's efficacy (that finally doomed the use of leeches by physicians). Then universities start developing educational programs. All of this has occurred within the field of coaching. It is now a profession.
  3. Coaching is New Age mumbo-jumbo. As coaching progresses as a profession, research is establishing many coaching practices (some of which were originally dismissed by "experts") as valid. In fact, the practice of focusing mostly on the positive (not 100% positive, just 75 - 95% positive), as well as focusing mostly on the present and desired future, have been well-established as important tools for transforming problems into opportunities and suffering into wisdom. Many therapists have also adopted these tools. Meanwhile, whatever may have been mumbo-jumbo (the coaching equivalent of bloodletting with leeches) is quietly being jettisoned.
  4. Anything goes in coaching. Coaching is a profession that is not regulated by governments. This confuses some people. They think they can do anything and call it coaching. Fortunately, there are reputable organizations that have established ethical guidelines and best practices in coaching. Work with coaches who are aligned with one of these organizations to avoid getting schnookered by people who call themselves coaches but whose practices may not always be effective, fair, or ethical.
  5. You don't need training to become a coach. This depends on whether you want to succeed as a coach. The ICF has been surveying thousands of coaches for years. Their findings are that coaches who've had coach-specific training are more successful more quickly and are less likely to drop out of the profession. So while you could call yourself a coach, even if you have no training, if you want to be a successful coach, get quality training early. It's an excellent investment.
  6. If you have a degree in psychology you're qualified to coach. Oh would that this were true! I know your university degree cost you a fortune so it must be good for something, right? I was like you once. I had two degrees in dance, of all things, from two of the most expensive universities in America. That got me a career as an adjunct professor at a variety of colleges until my back gave out. Luckily, I discovered my true calling was coaching. There were no degrees in coaching, at the time, so I spent a few thousand dollars at a good coach-training school (two, actually) and I've been using what I learned there ever since. Best investment I ever made. If you have a degree from an ICF-accredited coach-training university program, you may not need further training, but most degrees in psychology or social work won't qualify.
  7. Clients don't care if you're certified. Mine do! And apparently most other clients do, too. The ICF surveyed actual coaching clients and asked, all else being equal, would they prefer to work with a certified coach? 84% of coaching clients replied that they care very much if their coach is certified.
  8. All coaches are slimy. Well some people who call themselves coaches may be. Perhaps they aren't trained, or aren't certified, or aren't ethical. Because coaching isn't regulated, you do need to be choosy about who you work with. If you're working with a real coach, they probably are anything but slimy.
  9. Coaches have all the answers. Some folks think coaches have perfect lives and know everything. News flash: nobody fits that description. Coaches are skilled at asking important questions clients usually don't ask themselves. They are experts at change and customize every conversation. Coaches are just super-good at bringing valuable answers to light. That's transformative.
  10. Coaching is only for rich people. Coaching caught on first with high-level executive clients, movie stars, and billionaires. But as the profession grows, there are great coaches who specialize in clients from every walk of life. If you're interested in hiring a coach, shop around to find one who is right for you. Coaching is for everyone (and that's no myth)!

Myths spread in the ancient and medieval worlds because often too little information was available. Today, we have the same problem for the opposite reason: There is too much information and we cannot tell which is true.

As a coach, it's part of your job to spread the truth about coaching. Because coaching is an evolved technology that can help people successfully navigate hypercomplexity despite climate disasters. We live in a scary world but fear makes us think small and small thinking is destructive instead of resourceful. Effective coaching can be the difference between success and disaster.

 

What if Daenerys had a good coach?

 

Need a good coach? Find yours here:

 

Find Your Coach Here

 

Topics: ICF, Coach Certification, coaching vs. therapy, Life Coaching, coach training school, coaching ethics

What's the Difference Between a Professional Coach and an Entrepreneurial Coach?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Professional_vs_Entrepreneurial_Coach.jpg

What's the difference between a professional coach and an entrepreneurial coach and why does it matter?

I recently received a couple of emails from someone on my mailing list who asked questions such as these. He took issue with a lead-nurturing (a type of marketing) email he received from us in which I frankly advise new coaches to get good coach training and reputable coach certification.

The writer identified himself as an entrepreneur, who offers coaching as one of his services, so I answered him in language I thought he would understand:

I said we were very clear who our ideal student is and he probably wouldn't resonate with our messages, since they are targeted at people who want to become professional coaches, rather than entrepreneurial coaches. I wasn't interested in arguing the relative merits of professionals vs. entrepreneurs, so I neglected to add that I have a strong bias toward professional coaches, for whom training and certification are a must, as opposed to entrepreneurial coaches who generally rely their reputations, experience, and instincts, to coach. That, by the way, is why I started a coach training school that certifies coaches.

A coach used to be considered half professional and half entrepreneur, 15-to-20 years ago, and the Founder of the Coaching Profession, Thomas Leonard, was a perfect example. He started multiple coaching schools and professional organizations, in his lifetime, but was a classic entrepreneur who embodied the creativity, drive, productivity, and ongoing dialogue with his customers, that entrepreneurs are known for. That said, his major contribution to coaching was the turn toward professionalism and he embodied a stellar reputation for integrity, ethics, quality, and service that went way beyond profits.

The two photos above show, on the left, a professional coach who displays an openness and willingness to serve clients. On the right, shows an entrepreneur who's burning with his vision for designing a successful business. Both may be useful to coach with depending on what you want to work on. Neither is automatically better, but the professional coach is more thoroughly defined and has qualities that can be more easily recognized and evaluated.

Since Thomas' death in 2003, a leadership vacuum opened up. Much of it was filled by entrepreneurs who were focused more on marketing and sales gimmicks that drive profitability, than on helping clients grow and reach their goals. There are still a few good entrepreneurial coaches, but unfortunately they are increasingly outnumbered by scam artists and well-meaning wannabe's who may give bad advice.

I've known quite a few people whose lives have been transformed for the better by working with professional coaches. I also have known a handful of people whose lives have been ruined by entrepreneurial coaches. That doesn't mean all professional coaches are great, or that all entrepreneurial coaches are bad. Sometimes the opposite is true. It just isn't that simple, but over the years, I've moved away from the "half-professional/half-entrepreneurial" approach to coaching in favor of primarily being a professional and I advise my students to do the same, because it appears increasingly that professional coaches tend to deliver better results for clients and professional coaching is also a better model for coaching success. 

I've been clarifying the distinction between professional coaches and entrepreneurs with my Coach 100 students for over a decade and realized that it could be helpful to many of our blog readers too, so here goes.

Pro_coach_vs_entre_coach_table.jpg

Whether you are a professional coach or entrepreneurial coach isn't really an either/or choice; it's both/and. Because coaching is still not regulated, so there is tremendous freedom for practitioners. But at the same time, it's the professional side of coaching that is driving much of coaching's positive reputation.

If you're looking for a coach, you may want to use the above table to determine how professional your potential coach is. You have a bit more knowledge and power, because professional organizations define what you can expect. Also, if your coach is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF), you can file a complaint against a coach-member who fails to uphold the ICF's Code of Ethics.

Remember that lead-nurturing email from above, that advises good training and certification?

Recent research by the ICF found that coaches who get good training are more successful and less likely to quit the profession, while coaching clients say, all else being equal, they prefer to work with certified coaches. If you're new to coaching, my advice is that you get both coach training and certification to increase your confidence and success.

Get Coach Training and Certification

Topics: professional coach, professional coaching, coach training, Coach 100, ICF, Coach Certification, Thomas Leonard, certified coaches, coaching ethics

Should Life, Business, or Executive Coaching Be Government Regulated?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Is coaching regulated?
Written by Julia Stewart

 

People often wonder if the coaching profession is regulated. And professional life, business, and executive coaches often wonder, with trepidation, if coaching should be regulated. This article will help answer those questions, but the conversation about coaching regulation will likely go on for years.

 

To be clear, these questions have different meanings depending on whether you're thinking of hiring a coach, or you're thinking of becoming a coach, or you're already a professional coach:

 

  • If you're thinking about hiring a coach, then you want to know who will be the best coach for you, whether they should be licensed or certified, and whether there are training requirements for professional coaches. If you've been given a great recommendation for a coach from a trusted friend, these issues may matter less to you, but they still matter.
  • If you're thinking about becoming a coach, then you want to know what requirements you have to meet before you can accept paying clients and whether jumping through those hoops will be worth it for you.
  • However, if you're already making a living as a coach, you may regard these questions as threatening, because any changes in regulations or requirements where you live could impact your ability to keep making a living doing what you love. That's frightening. And if you're in the US (or anywhere else), witnessing the current Federal government shutdown, then the idea of getting government involved in your livelihood probably makes you apoplectic!

 

To professional coaches: relax. Your government isn't coming for you.To my knowledge, and I keep my ear to the ground on this, no government is currently regulating professional life, business or executive coaches (If you have knowledge to the contrary, please share it in the comments section, below). There have been attempts to regulate coaching in countries where it is widespread, but so far, coaching has established itself as a profession that doesn't target vulnerable populations, nor those who are in crisis, nor do coaches give advice on health, mental illness, or finance; three areas that usually require credentials. If you're a new coach, you can begin charging clients whenever you like. There are no legal hoops for you to clear.

 

To potential coaching clients: the onus is on you. Caveat emptor: let the buyer beware, is the rule of law that governs coaching. There's a huge variance in the effectiveness of professional coaches, so be sure you hire a good one.

 

By the way, some professional coaches are dead set against government regulation, while others are hoping for it. I put myself in the middle. Responsible coaches owe it to our clients to help them understand what to look for in a good coach. I think the ICF and IAC are in the best position to do this, but all of us need to pitch in, including coach training schools.

 

New professions can best prevent government interference by taking responsibility for their own standards. This Coaching Blog is widely read, so here are a few standards I believe you should look for when hiring a coach. Usually, the more of these you find in a coach, the better. 

 

1. Get recommendations from people you know well and trust. Did your best friend have a great experience with a coach? Then begin there. But ask your friend if the coach paid them for the referral. That's a common practice. A reputable coach will always tell you, up front, if they paid for your referral.

 

But what if you don't know anyone who has worked with a coach?

 

2. Look for coaches who are certified by the IAC or ICF. Yes, there are good coaches who aren't certified by these organizations, but increasingly, better coaches are getting these certifications, because they are a stamp of approval from a trusted source.

 

3. Look for coaches who have joined a professional organization, such as the IAC or ICF, that requires members to sign a code of ethics. Of course, unethical coaches can sign codes, but if the coach is upfront about the ethical code they are bound by, then you at least have something with which to measure their behavior. The good news is that these organizations have online coach directories of their members.

 

4. Only work with coaches who use written coaching agreements. Your agreement should give you an idea of what to expect and will likely reflect the code of ethics followed by that coach.

 

5. Work with coaches who have a substantial amount of coach-specific training. Most genuine coaches have had coach training, including the ones who've been practicing for decades. The ICF only allows coaches with at least 60 hours of coach-specific training to join their organization, so that's a good threshold to consider, but their entry-level certification requires 100 hours. If your coach is in training, but shy of that number of hours, most likely they will charge you less. Generally, you can expect to pay more to coaches who are trained, certified, and experienced.

 

6. Be especially careful of 'coaches' who offer get-rich-quick schemes. Most complaints about coaching involve non-coaches, who leverage the public's ignorance about coaching to sell snake-oil. They often focus on wealth, money, or that euphamism for money, abundance.

 

I'm sure some professional coaches will disagree with the above standards. You're welcome to your opinion, as I am to mine. Perhaps you'll help educate consumers by writing about it on your own blog.

 

Here are some places to find coaches:

 

Find a Coach Here

 

Photo by Mr Mo Fo

Topics: life coach, executive coaching, become a coach, ICF, Business Coaches, coach training schools, Million Dollar Coach, IAC, FIND A COACH, coaching ethics

Can You Coach a Nazi?

Posted by David Papini

Coaching

Guest post by David Papini, CCC.

Coaching is about conversations and human beings.

Conversations happen in different contexts and human beings can be criminals. Coaching is powerful, but has limits. Can you coach psychotics? Can you coach evil clients? Can you coach a Nazi?


There is a scene from Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List where Oskar Schindler (actor Liam Neeson) is talking with Amon Goeth (actor Ralph Fiennes) and tries to convince him to change his evil criminal “behavior” toward the prisoners.

 

Here is the conversation from a coaching technique point of view where Amon is the client and Schindler the coach:

If you put aside the maybe weird and scary feeling of coaching someone seriously mentally ill, with criminal traits and in a position of real power (as Amon Goeth was, in reality and in the movie) you may recognize that it is possible to meet clients with at least one of these trait (hopefully with lower intensity). Among the three traits (mental illness, propensity to criminal acts, power in an organization) I think that mental illness is the one that “technically” excludes the possibility of coaching because a coach cannot address the real (neither the great) self of the client, because that self is seriously damaged: only therapy maybe can.


Propensity to criminal acts poses an ethical problem, because it is possible, technically, to coach a client while embracing his criminal or violent self, but this puts the coach in the position of supporting a criminal (which is a moral and legal issue, not a technical one). For the sake of the discussion, if you are a criminal and a coach, you can coach a criminal, if you do not share the same criminal background, you may want to coach a client that wants to change his criminal behaviors in the future, but even in this case you cannot have a hidden agenda (like “helping the client to become a good citizen”) only an agenda that is shared with him.


If agendas (yours or client’s) are illegal or unethical or hidden, you cannot coach.


Coaching a powerful person, of course, can be done and I think that when my client’s real power (or status) is higher than mine, what makes the coaching relationship a good one is establishing that “us” mindset.  Which is the only part that I would save of the otherwise poor Schindler’s coaching performance.

Coach David Papini, CCC

Visit David Papini's Coach 100 Page Here.

David was born in Florence in 1966 just a few months before the deluge, and that's a kind of destiny. As an executive is in charge for general management in a IT Firm, as a certified NLP counselor helps clients to explore their life experience, as a Coach helps clients getting what they really want, as a conflict mediator witnesses how tough and creative a relationship can be, as a trainer helps trainees in stretching their brain, growing and learning, as a public speaker enjoys co-creating experience on the fly, as a dad loves his two children. As a man he is grateful and worried that he’s got this wonderful life. And he’s fond of categorizing his professional roles :-). More about him at http://papini.typepad.com/lifehike/
Flicker Creative Commons photo by HistoryIn An Hour

Topics: Coaching, Coach 100, coaching clients, coach, coaching ethics

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