The Coaching Way

There’s no doubt about it. Coaching is currently a hot topic as celebrities, leaders, business people and the general public like you and me begin to appreciate the true power of professional coaching to improve performance and life in general.

The term ‘coach’ originates from the 1830s and is believed to have been used, first, by Oxford University as a slang term for a tutor who ‘carries’ a student through his or her exams.

Sports coaching is the branch of coaching with which we are all most familiar and in that sense the term implies responsibility for developing strategy, giving direction, training and motivating.

Most sports coaches are chosen because of their previous personal success in the sport and they therefore end up acting not only purely as coaches but also as advisers and mentors to their charges.

No doubt because of the breadth of responsibility assigned to sports coaches, most people wrongly assume that life coaches offer a form of personal consultancy, advisory and/or mentorship service to their clients.

And that’s where they are wrong.

“I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities.”

– Bob Nardelli (CEO, Home Depot)

The coaching way

The Coaching Way (continued)


A widespread misunderstanding

A few weeks ago I received a request for coaching through our website that highlighted – and amplified – the widespread misunderstanding that exists about the exact role of a life coach.

In the request, the prospective client offered extensive information about himself and his many perceived problems, weaknesses, inabilities and addictions, before ending with this comment:

“This is a perfect challenge for any coach who thinks he or she has what it takes. As you have just read, there is an awful lot wrong with me that needs fixing. Only if you’re confident you can do so then contact me. What’s in it for you? Well, put it this way, if you can fix me, I promise you can fix anybody!”

As I read the ‘job description’ that this would-be client had put forward, my immediate thought was that for someone purporting to be so ‘broken’ this demonstrated a remarkable level of confidence (some would call it outright cheek!)

The coach’s role

Nevertheless, this was not a request that I would pass on to one of our trainees or certified life coaches. Instead, I penned a brief reply, politely explaining that the responsibility for ‘fixing’ anything lay squarely with the client. The coach’s role in the relationship would be to act as a facilitator, supporter and motivator of the necessary change.

To date I’ve heard nothing back.

Frankly I’m not surprised. Many people labour under the illusion that they can simply open their wallets, pay for life coaching and then sit back, relax and let the coach do all the hard yards to magically manifest the changes they desire in their lives.

Before I take this further, I have to add that many life coaches, particularly new or inexperienced coaches, fall into the trap of believing that they (and not their clients) are responsible for bringing about change in their clients’ lives.

Sadly, when clients, like those in question, become disillusioned by the lack of change (as they inevitably will if they are not prepared to do the work) such coaches often take this ‘failure’ personally – sometimes with devastating results to their confidence.

Life coaching: what’s the big deal?

On the face of it, for those unfamiliar with coaching, what I have just said may leave you wondering: “Well then, if the coach doesn’t do the work, what’s the big deal about life coaching?”

The big deal is that life coaching, because it is non directive, is a catalyst for powerful, authentic, transformative change. The change that takes place is real because it comes from within, from the heart. And because the actions required to deliver that change come solely from the person wanting to change.

Having said that, if you are still tempted to think that the job of the life coach seems pretty cushy, then think again!

A cushy job? Think again!

Being a great life coach takes great self-awareness, skill and a thorough understanding of – and ability to apply – the many life coaching tools and techniques, along with great compassion blended with a steely determination not to tolerate mediocrity from one’s clients.

If you think about it, almost all careers involve training to become proficient at some skill so that you can practice and earn an income from others who lack that skill and are prepared to pay you to advise them or do it for them.

For example, you pay an accountant to prepare your books or complete your income tax returns. You engage a lawyer to advise you on contractual disputes. You hire an electrician when you need to rewire your house.

Breaking the mould

Life coaching breaks with this mould.

In the relationship with a life coach, you are recognised as the undisputed expert (on your own life). A life coach will never, or at least very seldom, seek to advise you on what goals to set, what changes to make and what actions to pursue. These choices, and the responsibility that comes with them, are yours and yours alone.

What the coach will do, however, is show you how to access the power that resides within you to make the decisions and take the actions that you know, at a deep level, are right for you.

The coach will help you understand how to love and respect yourself for the uniquely capable being that you are … and how to eradicate self limiting thoughts and beliefs that may have blocked, stunted or slowed your progress towards becoming the best you can be and living a meaningful, fulfilled life.

A profound experience

Life coaching offers a profound experience; one in which you get to know the true you, how you tick, how your external world has shaped you, why you react the way you do, why you see and communicate with other people the way you do, what drives you at a fundamental level, what brings you real joy and how you can break the shackles that prevent you from becoming who and what you want to be.

It requires you, the client, to open your mind and accept full responsibility for your life, and assists you with a range of simple yet powerful tools and techniques to use within a supportive and caring environment.

This is the coaching way.

Why not give it a try?


This is the official Blog for New Insights Life Coach Training. Find out more about life coaching and becoming a life coach here:



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  1. Charmaine
    Nov 10, 2016

    Excellent blog- thanks Bill.

  2. Magdil Groenewald
    Nov 4, 2016

    Thanks for this. I’m planning to start my Life coaching course in January 2017. The more I read about it the more I come to the conclusion that is what I want to do. There is nothing that gives me more pleasure than seeing someone got there life in order and reach there goals that they set for themselves. Thank you Bill this is a must for every living person.

  3. Yolande
    Oct 24, 2016

    Thank you for sharing this Bill, beautifully explained! It is indeed a conversation that I, from time to time, enter into with prospective clients when explaining what Life Coaching is all about. Don’t blame you for turning that client down 😉

  4. I have never been completely clear on the meaning of directive compared to non-directive and it was only reading this, that I could see the difference quite clearly. Thanks Bill, this was very helpful!

    • Bill
      Oct 22, 2016

      I’m glad it brought some clarity 🙂

  5. Jackie
    Oct 21, 2016

    What an inspiring read. I’m a trainee life coach and all my clients so far have misunderstood the role of a life coach until I put them straight! I will also be sharing this with my clients.

    • Bill
      Oct 21, 2016

      Thanks Jackie. Yes, it is quite common for people to equate life coaching either with counselling or some form of ‘life advisory’ service. Hopefully this helps set the record straight 🙂

  6. Jana Field
    Oct 19, 2016

    I wish all parents-to-be could be exposed to life coaching so that they are equipped with skills that can only help their children grow into people taking full responsibility for the life they want to lead. An excellent read that I will share with my clients:)

    • Bill
      Oct 19, 2016

      Thanks Jana. Yes, I agree that this should be an integral part of our education 🙂

  7. Karen
    Oct 19, 2016

    What a superb explanation of exactly what coaching is and is not\, Bill. Anyone reading it who has not experienced life coaching, is bound to feel assured, inspired and encouraged to take the first step towards what in my opinion, is the greatest gift we could ever give ourselves. A client recently said to me, “Everyone should do this.”

    • Bill
      Oct 19, 2016

      Thank you Karen. Of course I couldn’t agree more with you … but then I am biased (and proudly so!)

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