Confessions of a Life Coach – Part One
Some people have a lot of misconceptions about life coaches and understandably so. It can be hard to see the reality of a coach’s life and business through a beautifully curated social media feed and highlight reel. I’ve never been one for curation (sorry for those of you who follow me on Instagram – I know it looks like a unicorn rode a rollercoaster and then vomited on my feed), but I am one for truth-telling. I can’t always stimulate your eyes, but I can set the record straight.
I’m calling this post ‘part one’ because once I gave myself permission to do some myth-busting, a whole lot more than these six confessions came out. In a busy schedule, a quick read is a good read, so I’m going to share them all with you in chunks.
I cannot speak on behalf of all coaches everywhere, and nor do I want to. We are all unique in more ways than we can count, but I personally know and have trained many, MANY coaches and I am fairly confident that their reality is not too dissimilar from my own.
In the spirit of keeping it real with the hope that you will feel more comfortable to do the same, here is the inside scoop.
1. We don’t have our shit together all of the time and we are far from perfect.
While a lot more people know what a coach is than they did ten years ago, many people still believe that if someone is a successful life coach, they must be living a perfectly balanced, enlightened and successful life. It is just not true.
Most, if not all coaches still have challenges and are challenged in their lives. There are days when we don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, days when we are so scared or feeling so far outside of our comfort zone that it is hard to do anything but shake and question how long we could hide under our doona before anyone would notice; times when we question whether or not anyone likes us and we tell ourselves that we are worthless… yep, even when we believe the exact opposite at our core and empower you to do the same… and times when we turn on the TV and take residence on the couch with a tub of ice cream and a bottle of rosé.
Think of the ugliest cry you’ve ever witnessed in another person. Now picture a red splodge that forms on their cheek the moment the tears start flowing and remains for approximately 1.25 hours after they stop, a weird hiccup that emerges when they try to catch their breath between sobs and the beauty of a recurring snot bubble. Welcome to me mid-meltdown.
Even as we speak, I am writing this post because I started writing another one and it opened up an emotional can of worms that I didn’t feel ready to work through (see confession number 9 in “Confessions of a Life Coach – Part Two”).
Personally, I don’t really mind that I can’t stand in front of you and tell you that I have everything in order all of the time or that my life is nothing but happiness and success. I’m a better coach because my struggles are real, like yours, and because, like you, I am on a journey. There are days when I am laughing so hard that tears are streaming down my face. There are also days when something touches me so deeply that my tear ducts run dry. Life is grand for it, not despite it.
2. We own a lot of personal development books that we haven’t read, and if you recommend one to us, we’ll probably buy it that same day.
I love to read and do so often, but I just counted the personal development books on my bookshelf that I have not yet read and there are 53 of them. I then remembered that I bought two more while I was in Sydney last week, so there is actually 55.
As coaches, we love personal development, and so us being drawn to books of that nature is a no-brainer. Couple that with a burning desire to be the best support and referrer of tools for our clients and you get a recipe for a ‘bookalanche’. (An avalanche of books. I’d argue that many coaches have had a pile of books fall on them at some stage.) Those of us that are smart buy electronic books for our iPad or Kindle so they don’t begin to overwhelm our office. Those of us that are still obsessed with the feeling of a traditional book in our hands (that’s me) are, quite frankly, screwed.
Like squirrels gathering acorns for the winter, it is safe to say that if the internet ever did break, the world’s collective of life coaches would keep the population emotionally educated for around ten years with their stash of personal development resources… though, to be honest, you would probably be on the receiving end of 10,000 copies of the same 120 books.
3. It is an honour and privilege to stand beside you.
When you choose to coach with us it feels like we have won the lottery. While you may be feeling mixed emotions about working with us (nerves, excitement, impatience and uncertainty are all common!), particularly if you have never worked with a coach before, we are nothing short of pumped.
As a coach, there is no greater honour than being gifted the opportunity to wholeheartedly stand beside you on a piece of your life journey, and there is a good chance that we have either joyously fist-pumped the air or cried a little happy tear when we read the email from you saying that you are in – no matter how many clients we have worked with before you. If we own a pet and they are in the near vicinity of us when we receive your email, they too have likely been forced to join in the celebration. See below…
4. We quickly find ‘surface level’ conversations boring.
We will choose a D&M over a commentary on the weather with you any day and when we meet you we want to know what you believe in, get excited about and stand for rather than what you do for work. It’s easy to think that because we have in-depth conversations with people all day, we long to talk about trivial things when we ‘clock off’. The reality is that if we’re tired or drained we either won’t talk at all or we’ll simply have conversations with our coach friends consisting largely of GIF images of animals pranking each other.
5. We can be hard to live with.
People in our personal life get asked coaching questions all the time. We often don’t even realise that we are doing it… but, if we did, it probably wouldn’t stop us.
“How do you want to feel?”
“What do you really want?”
“I know you said you don’t know, but if you did know what would it be?”
“What does your heart say?”
“If you really cared about yourself, what would you do?”
“Okay. But if not now, then when?”
If you are in a state of confusion or unrest, it can be dangerous coming home to a life coach if you are not up for a chat. We LOVE it when you ask us those questions though! Watch our eyes light up as we work hard to answer them honestly for you.
6. There are days when we are only dressed nicely from the waist up.
When you are next talking to your coach on Skype, ask them to show you what they are wearing from the waist down, including on their feet. You may just get a good giggle out of it.
When we are working from home on the computer a lot, cold, tired or spending most of our day sitting down, it can be pretty tempting to stay comfy. We often call it the ‘newsreader look’ when we are talking to each other: hair done, make up immaculate and a nice shirt, tee or cardi on above the desk in your line of sight, then trackies, uggs or slippers on below the desk.
When you own your own service-based business there is rarely an I.T. support department, fancy-pants photocopier or colleague to make you tea, so this is one of the few perks we claim proudly… without ever telling you a word about it.
Does it mean that we are any less committed to bringing our all to you in your sessions or that we are working in a lacklustre way? Heck no! If anything, we’re more present with you because we haven’t got the top button of our jeans digging into our stomach. However, if you sense your coach isn’t wearing a bra… well then there’s a problem.
Oh, and while most people clean their office from one side to the other, we clean ours from the roof down. A messy floor can’t be picked up by the camera either, and if we’re half-way through brainstorming a new project or are putting handouts together for a workshop, this is where you’ll find the evidence.
Parts two and three of this post are coming soon, but in the meantime if there is a thought you have had about coaches that you would like me to speak to, please pop it in the comments!
If you yourself are a coach and you can relate to any of these please also sing out and let me know! Don’t leave me hanging friends.