The Role of the Coach
A Skill-Based Approach
To the Whole Person
Across the Lifespan
A New Profession
Hi! Don Morris here! I am a personal development coach, also known as a lifeskills coach, or a selfcare coach. Coaching is a new profession that has steadily gained prominence in the past two decades. For some of you, this will be your first introduction to coaching.
Coaches help people achieve their dreams in all areas of their lives, whether physical, social, aesthetic, intellectual, professional, or spiritual.
On this page I will explain how a coach can help you achieve your dreams. But before I get to what a coach does to assist clients, let me spend a few moments discussing how coaching differs from other roles and professions.
Coaching Is Not Therapy
As a coach, I will not take the place of a psychotherapist. Coaching is not intended for people who are experiencing marked emotional distress or significant impairment in functioning in one or more areas of their lives. Examples of conditions that are best treated by therapy include clinical depression, anxiety, chemical dependence, or excessive relationship problems. Personal coaching, despite its many benefits, is not a substitute for treatment for these concerns.
I strongly recommend that anyone experiencing mental health issues seek the assistance of a qualified mental health professional. This could be a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, marital and family therapist, or other licensed/certified professional counselor.
If you need therapy at this time, you will want to ensure you get a skilled and supportive therapist. Click here for a discussion of how to choose a therapist who is right for you. Many of the points made here apply to hiring a personal coach, an attorney, and many other professionals as well.
Candidates for Coaching
Who, then, would benefit from coaching rather than therapy? Coaches work with people who are functioning normally, but who may feel something is missing in their lives and want help in getting more out of their lives.
Candidates for coaching are successful, highly motivated people who seek assistance to clarify their goals, establish effective action plans, and work both smart and hard to implement these plans and achieve their dreams. In the process they will experience improved relationships, mental and physical health, and a host of other benefits.
Coaches and Other Professions
As a coach, I am not a financial planner or an accountant, although I will assist you in making financial plans. Again, I may refer you to those professionals.
Nor am I an attorney, although I recommend that you retain one. You should have a will, and when you start new business ventures, you should always consult an attorney.
And the list goes on. I am not a dietician, but I will help you make definite plans to improve your nutrition. I am not a fitness trainer, but I may recommend you begin a fitness program that’s right for you.
Likewise, I’m not a medical doctor. You need to consult with your primary care physician for many goals you will set, and to refer you to various specialists. I can, however, assist you in developing a plan for assuring health and wellness.
Although not a minister, I believe spiritual growth is essential to achieve success with peace and joy. I can provide guidance and feedback in assisting you to find what is most meaningful and important to you–both now and in eternity.
It is also important for you to recognize that I won’t become your friend. Our relationship will be a warm and nurturing one. Yet I will remain an impartial observer who will be able to talk straight to you in a way a friend may not dare. Coaching and being coached require this sort of objectivity.
What a Coach Does
Then, you may ask, what can I do for you? I will help you develop your full potential as a person, in a balanced, gradual manner. I’ll help you clarify your dreams, specify your goals, establish action plans, and accomplish them. I’ll help you reduce stress, manage time and resources, and put more zest and peace in your life.
Coaching is not about the coach at all. Instead, it is the client that asks for help, assesses needs, sets goals, carefully reflects, conducts research, builds skills, makes changes, progresses along the way, and achieves success. It is the client who does all the work. The coach points the way, observes, gives feedback, makes recommendations. It is the client’s choice to follow through.
Elements of My Approach
There are three primary elements of my coaching approach.
First, it is skill-based. I will help you develop the tools and acquire the resources to accomplish your goals. I’ll help provide the structure you’ll need to use those tools. As a coach, I’ll help you develop the skills you need to succeed in life, or lifeskills.
Second, I respond to you as a whole person. I believe people need to balance their personal, professional, and family lives. Each of us plays many roles throughout our lives, and may need help in reaching the full potential for happiness and success in any given role at any given time.
These include son/daughter, father/mother, brother/sister, husband/wife, employee, supervisor, student, teacher, friend, customer, patron, service provider, etc. Some of these roles grow and change over time, such as the relationship between a parent and a child. Others conflict with each other. You may need help in navigating through the seas of life.
Finally (and closely related to the preceding points), my vision of a person crosses the lifespan. Coaching is not limited to any one period in your life. High school or college students can benefit from assistance in preparing for marriage and career opportunities. Young adults face the challenge of entering the work force and establishing their lives. Men and women in mid-life face their own challenges, as do seniors. Any time a person faces a transition there is an opportunity for transformation. Coaching can help people at any and all periods of their lives.
The Chain of Life
The experience of life can be divided into three categories, forming a chain of events. The key to successful living lies in managing all three effectively. This can be done by:
- Dealing with the past,
- Living in the present, and
- Preparing for the future.
Living your life in the present is essential for peace and happiness. However, this can only be done when the impact of the past and the future are acknowledged and put into proper perspective. Sometimes this process must be repeated several times, because old issues may raise their heads again and unanticipated changes may occur. Our lives are complex, consisting of many different components.
The Arenas of Life
These are just a few of the arenas in which people live their lives. You may feel a need to hire a coach to help you set and achieve goals in one or more of life’s “theaters of operations.” Or you may need to learn to balance the conflicting needs and opportunities these areas of life present. Read over this list, and consider whether you are living to your full potential in your life.
Note: This list is not meant to be exhaustive; you may need help in other areas as well.
- Aesthetics: Enjoying the beautiful, appreciating the finer things in life.
- Career: Networking, promotions, reaching goals, beginning or changing.
- Family life: Husband/wife relations, parenting, sibling relations, in-law relations.
- Financial security: Debt reduction, budgeting, choosing insurance, preparing for retirement.
- Friendships: Developing, deepening, enriching.
- Health: Hygiene, exercise and fitness, nutrition, disease prevention.
- Intellect/Education: Challenge, remaining active, obtaining expertise and credentials.
- Posterity: Wills, trusts, passing on of values.
- Recreation: Fun, sports, entertainment, enjoyment and zest.
- Service: Charitable giving, volunteering, seeking excellence in professional and community life.
- Spirituality: Connection, meaning, knowing one’s place in the universe.
- Stress reduction: Time management, relaxation, exercise.
- Wealth: Savings plan, investment.
- Wellness: Joy, peace, self-esteem, love.
Many activities can fit into more than one category. Jogging or playing racquetball, for example, can be a part of recreation, stress reduction, social, career development, and other goals.
Priorities and Boundaries
Setting priorities and boundaries is essential to achieving balance in life. Saying “Yes” to one goal means saying “No” to all other goals and pulls on your attention, even positive ones. You must learn how to commit to a goal, and to cut out anything and everything that does not contribute to reaching your goal (unless, of course, something more important takes priority over the chosen goal). You must choose what you want out of life. You must learn to say “No” to anything that would hinder those goals.
This means learning to say “No” to the demands of others. Other people will want to meet their needs by having you say “Yes” to their goals. If this is mutually beneficial and helpful, you will choose to say “Yes.” We need people in our lives for intimacy and joy. But not all demands are helpful or healthy. You must learn to say “No” in those situations. I can help you learn the skills of setting effective, flexible priorities and boundaries in your life.
Let me wish each of you continued success and happiness as you seek zest and balance in your lives. Peace!
Copyright © 2002 by Don H. Morris.