When to Hire a Life Coach — And What The Heck Do They Do?
Do you call a life coachto navigate life’s challenges or help with career issues? Does a life coach help you understand your goals, how to reach them, and prioritize them? Do you need a life coach to boost your self-confidence?
We called Kenji Oshima, AKA Coach Kenji (pictured), of San Francisco, to find out the answers. He said, “All of the above!”
ISBB: What does life coaching focus on?
Coach Kenji: Life coaching focuses on an individual’s entire life as it relates to goal setting, outcome creation and change. In coaching, the assumption is that individuals are capable of generating their own solutions, while the coach provides a supportive, discovery-based framework. While positive emotions are typically the natural outcome of great coaching, the primary focus is on creating strategies for changing your work or personal life.
In addition, the true emphasis in coaching is on action, accountability, and follow-through; it supports personal growth, professional growth, and development based on individually-initiated change, since coaching is forward moving and future-focused.
Coaching is for self-actualized people who have known success in their life, and choose to add that extra edge in order to move forward to make the changes they want in life.
What kinds of clients use you as their life coach and when do they call you?
My clients include housewives, managers, administrators, and grad students. The individuals I partner with are ready for a change in their lives; they want to step into a life of choice and action that’s aligned with their goals and values, so they’re “thinking about” how life can be amazing, excellent, and wonderful, and are now ready to make it happen.
Why should you consult a life coach and why do your dreams matter?
I always tell prospects and clients that coaching is a giant sandbox where we get to explore how your dreams become attainable goals; we discover, together, a sense of purpose and direction for you to explore. Sometimes we need clarity; sometimes we need accountability; and sometimes we need both.
During the initial interview, I use a “Discovery Packet” that asks essential questions about who you are and what you want out of life. The poet Mary Oliver said, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” That’s what life coaching is – finding out what makes your toes wiggle and making it happen. If you don’t dare to risk going for your dreams, how will you ever know you can attain them?
What’s an example of a client’s dream?
If writing short stories is a passion, but you’re stuck in an boring desk job, a talented life coach will glean that out of you and help you move toward fulfilling that goal of doing something you love. It’s important to stress that the client comes to each coaching session with the agenda, and it’s the coach’s job to help them reach their goals.
A coach isn’t a consultant who “provides expert advice,” but an expert who provides the framework, questions, exercises, and accountability for you to make the positive changes you want out of life. But if you don’t know what those are, a great coach will help you discover just that.
What kinds of questions should you ask yourself to determine if life coaching is right for you?
Questions I ask include: Are you ready to focus on yourself and nurture your personal development? Are you prepared to work toward your goals? Do you feel collaboration and accountability will help you become unstuck? Are your commitments to yourself and others out of balance? Are you willing to let go of limiting beliefs and negative self-talk? Would you like to increase self-confidence and resilience?
What kinds of questions does a coach ask to help people sort out their issues?
I typically ask: What are you passionate about? What’s another way of looking at this? What are your next steps? What will this get you? What would make this effortless? What do you avoid?
What other roles does a life coach fulfill?
I like to say that a life coach wears many hats, as a facilitator, advocate, friend, navigator, partner, sometimes consultant, but it’s a dramatically different relationship from other improvement processes; in coaching, you share that power. People expect us to tell them what to do. In reality, we prompt them to tell us what they want to do. It’s the synergy in our relationship that creates opportunity and change.
What other advice do you have for people interested in life coaching?
Here is some advice I would offer: Always take a free “sample session” from the coach you’re considering; it’s a personal relationship and it should feel both supportive and challenging. Remember that coaching is about forward action and positive change; while we’ll prompt you and “hold you accountable,” you’re the one making the changes – be ready, willing, and able to do that.
Ask a potential coach about his or her training and experience. An accredited training program certified by the International Coach Federation will provide the likelihood of a better coaching experience. Also, are the two of you the right fit? How do you feel working with this coach?
Be honest open, and brave; the more you jump right into coaching, the better your experience and outcome will be. Watch out for “advice giving” – a good coach is trained to help you find your answers, not impose theirs.
How blunt should a life coach be?
A good coach will help hold you accountable and be blunt when necessary and I follow these four cornerstones from the Coaches Training Institute:
1) You are creative, resourceful and whole: if you don’t have the answer, you’ll figure out where to find it and your coach will help you in doing so.
2) The coaching agenda comes from you. You’re in charge, while the coach helps guide. You’re powerful and capable.
3) Coaching addresses your entire life, and helps you find balance to live by your beliefs, ethics, morals, hopes, and dreams.
4) We synergistically “dance in the moment” together but a good life coach lets you lead. It’s like Ginger Rogers dancing backwards with Fred Astaire, down the stairs, in heels. He always led the dance, but she made him look good! Not only will a coach make you look good, but you’ll feel great – and the high heels are optional!
For more information about life coaching, to inquire about a free sample session, or enlist Kenji’s services, visit Coach Kenji’s website.