A few years ago, I read a biography of Bruce Lee that included a section describing how he experienced a series of recurring nightmares.
These led to a growing sense of fear and unease during his waking hours, and he lost confidence in various areas of his life. It’s fairly obvious why confidence is important to a kung fu master and international film star; the negative effects of his anxiety took a toll on him professionally.
Eventually, after much soul searching, Lee recognized the root of his fear, then set it aside and moved forward. His career flourished, and today his name is known by just about everyone. Although most of us are not martial arts heroes on the silver screen, each of us can imagine what Lee’s experience was like.
We’ve all had the sense of being held back, of being unable to move past some hidden blockage and onward toward a better future. To a lesser or greater extent, each of us has our own monster holding us back, and that’s where coaching can help. Sometimes, we need someone else to step in and help us slay the beast.
What Can We Gain from a Life Coach?
People often hold misconceptions about coaching. Many confuse coaching with counseling and mentoring, but a coach doesn’t provide advice or work with a client over a long period of time. Instead, a coach’s goal is to empower his clients so they can act on their desires and work toward goals. Generally, this is achieved over a short series of sessions.
Coaching doesn’t involve going into an office and lying down on the couch (as is the case with therapy).
Many coaches never even meet their clients. Skype has made it possible to connect coaches with clients all over the world, allowing clients to conveniently experience highly meaningful and successful sessions. Because of this, virtually anyone can benefit from coaching — even people who consider themselves happy and successful.
Who Can Benefit from Coaching?
The majority of people who seek coaching suffer from a lack of confidence. People of all ages — from teenagers to retirees — find themselves restricted by fears of what they can actually accomplish. It sounds strange, but many people find it difficult to cope with the idea of success.
People often react to barriers they built early in their lives, usually before the age of 12. At some point, they developed a sense of their own incapability. These barriers can be self-imposed or constructed by social pressures. Although the high-water mark varies from person to person, almost everyone has an internal concept of his own limitations. Once a person approaches this supposed limitation, he says, “I can’t.”
Many people know they have a desire (for a promotion, for social recognition, or whatever else), but they fear what will happen once that desire is attained. Will they be able to handle it? Will they be capable of fulfilling the function? When it comes right down to it, these people are battling with two internal voices: one saying “I can” and the other saying “I can’t” or “I never will.”
Just about everyone can benefit from coaching, but people in the following situations will undoubtedly profit from the experience:
- People experiencing transition: A coach is useful when changing jobs, relocating, having a baby, retiring, divorcing, or during any other time when it’s important to assess your situation and develop strategies to move forward positively.
- People who feel they have come to a crossroads: Coaching provides help when determining your values and goals in a way that will set you down the best path possible.
- People who feel “stuck”: Coaching provides a means of analyzing and surpassing barriers.
- People with unrealized dreams: A coach can help develop strategies for bringing goals and dreams to fruition.
- People who are happy and successful: Even successful people have barriers. Breaking them down only leads to further prosperity.
Research Proves the Benefits of Coaching
A recent survey performed by the UK’s The Work Foundation, a research and management consultancy, found that the effects of coaching are quantifiable, and their findings attest to the benefits of engaging a coach.
- 84 percent reported improvement in their ability to work toward goals.
- 60 percent reported a heightened openness to personal development and learning.
- 58 percent reported a better ability to identify solutions to work-related issues.
- 52 percent reported an increase in responsibility.
- 42 percent reported a higher sense of self-awareness.
The same report also found a wide variety of benefits for organizations that provide coaching to employees, such as an outstanding increase in each employee’s utilization of his talents, a general increase in organizational performance, a more motivated staff, better relationships between different departments, and an increased willingness to adopt a new management style.
Simply put, coaching provides the boost necessary to push a person far beyond the limits of what he thinks he is capable of. This brings about a positive result for individuals, the organizations for which they work, and society as a whole.
A key aspect of daily life involves overcoming challenges and pushing past barriers. That’s how life is for almost all of us. We all spend our lives in the pursuit of success, whether it’s small or large, physical or intangible. In order to achieve these goals, it may be helpful to have someone remind you to listen to the inner voice that says “I can.” Sometimes, it takes a little bit of coaching to get there.