"Life coaching helps people
perform at their peak"
By Millie Calesky, Personal & Professional
(Originally appeared the Advocate – Vol. XI, No.
Most of us know what sports coaches do. In the gym and
on the playing field, they help athletes achieve far
more than they would on their own. Many of us have memories
of gym teachers who coached us to try harder and kept
our morale high, especially when our muscles ached or
our team was losing. They knew that we could achieve
more than we expected for ourselves.
Although life coaching is
focused on personal and professional issues, it still
shares a lot in common with its counterpart
in sports. Both are based on the belief that, given
the support, motivation and guidance that coaches
their charges can excel and achieve greatness beyond
Thomas Leonard, a CPA and financial
advisor, is the grandfather of life coaching. He saw
that what many
of his clients
wanted went far beyond advice about money management – they
were really seeking support in making major life
changes. Unwilling to wait for the future, these
a mentor to help them focus on and conquer their
In 1992, Leonard established Coach University,
an institute devoted to training others to perform
and mentoring function that he’d labeled “coaching.” He
designed his school to be campus-free. Using cutting-edge
technology to develop and promote his program, Leonard
designed a curriculum that could be taught by phone.
Classes were presented by conference calls on “phone
bridges.” Registration and all administrative
functions were transacted via the Internet.
sessions were designed to be held by phone – usually
three or four times per month. The length of consultations
(or coach calls) varied according to individual need,
generally ranging from 30 minutes to an hour. This
brief but focused discussion could easily fit into
busiest of schedules.
In less than 10 years, life coaching has moved from
obscurity to acceptance as a mainstream profession.
signed on for training, other schools have been founded,
and a professional association – the International
Coach Federation – was established.
the progress to be made in working with a coach,
corporations have embraced it as a
support their executives and managers in performing
peak. The types of coaching available today are as
diverse as clients’ needs, including health
an wellness coaching, personal fulfillment, creativity,
The common thread among these
branches is this: coaching helps people be more fulfilled
and productive. To
achieve this, clients are often asked to visualize
like their lives to look. Once their vision is honed,
goals are set with a timeline for achieving them.
Coaches can provide support through some or all phases
process. A commitment to working together often ensures
success that might otherwise be impossible.
encourage clients to take an inventory of their lives
and honestly look at what feels right
what doesn’t. Clients may be asked to list
their “toleration” – irritants
or bad habits that they’re putting up with.
Sample tolerations might include driving a car that
down; working so many hours that there’s no
time to spend with one’s family or for enjoyment;
not going to the doctor for regular check-ups; or
to caffeine, cigarettes or other drugs. As these
are eliminated, the quality of one’s life starts
By committing to work with a coach and
bringing greater attention to areas that need change, “coachees” start
seeing their lives shifting. Clients often commit
to get tasks done between calls. This increased accountability
motivates them to take steps that they might otherwise
Coaching provides a boost in morale for negative
thinkers who tend to focus on the half-glass that’s
empty. By learning to focus on the positive, clients
appreciate how productive they really are. This shift
ultimately leads to greater self-confidence and willingness
to do what needs to be done.
Coaches provide the structure, guidance and encouragement
that can help to make goals achievable. Willingness
and a commitment to change are all that are necessary
get started. Most coaches offer free introductory
consultations, so potential clients can try it out
before making any