There are many life coaching misconceptions and I will unpack eight of them in this article.
- Life Coaches are experts about life
- Life Coaches must be old
- Anyone can become a Life Coach
- Life coaching is not needed in business
- Life Coaches tell you what to do
- Life Coaching is only for the select few
- Life Coaching is expensive
- You can only become a life coach when you have experienced a significant event in your own life
#1. Life Coaches are experts about life
For many the title “Life Coach” is a trigger as it brings about images of these guru-like figures who are experts in life. The question is often raised as to how any one person can be an expert on life whether it be theirs or anyone else’s?
The truth is that the person is a Coach and the niche that they operate in is “life”- your life in particular.
The “life” part was a way of differentiating a life coach from a business coach, but this differentiation has ceased to exist as we have moved in to the age where work is not separate to life. What is happening in your life that you could take to life coaching?
Topics are vast and could include
- Relationships with a spouse, children, parents, friends and colleagues,
- Transition – moving house, job, partnership, country, promotion, retirement, illness, personal and professional growth
- Death, Grief and Mourning of a significant person, animal, opportunity
- Recovery from addiction or trauma
- Skills – coaches have a collection of tools to assist you and these are especially useful for the future
#2. Life Coaches must be old
This misconception is probably linked to the idea that life coaches are experts and gurus and have loads of experience in life and especially in whatever it is that you are seeking guidance on. Life Coaches are professional people who know how to coach. They are not mentors and so need not have any experience whatsoever in your “topic”, but they will know how to guide and ask questions and of course have empathy.
Let’s also be aware that the world is changing at a rapid rate and we will often need younger people to open our eyes to a different way. Your Life Coach could be 20 years old.
#3. Anyone can become a Life Coach
The sad reality is that anyone can wake up tomorrow and declare themselves a Life Coach. They can do this without a moment’s training or experience. The coaching industry is self-regulating, but happily with increasing frequency, buyers of coaching are starting to ask questions about whether the person is indeed a credentialed Life Coach. Professional Life Coaches are also calling out the fly-by-nights as it brings the entire coaching profession into disrepute. This is important because coaches can do as much damage as a surgeon. Do look for membership and credentialing with a professional body like COMENSA.
As for the idea that absolutely everyone would make a great Life Coach, this is not true because coaching requires very specific and specialised talents, knowledge and skills. Everyone is not cut out to become a surgeon or an accountant or a coach or a chef.
#4. Life Coaching is not needed in business
This misconception comes from the days when life and work were separate. You left the personal side of you at home and the work side at work. We have moved on from the separate work and home boxes. Now people want to feel that their work matters and that they contribute and their contribution has meaning. It is no longer about increasing the bottom line and changing a system without taking the people, connections and relationships into account. We now talk about balance and mindfulness and manage stress levels. Life Coaching is most certainly vital in business. Let me remind you here that the coach needs to be qualified, trained, experienced and credentialed and know their way around the workplace.
#5. Life Coaches tell you what to do
Good heavens no, this is not the case and if your Life Coach is telling you what to do then they are being very unethical and are not coaching. People seem to think that the Life Coach is the “Dear Agony Aunt” person who instead of you writing to, you sit with in person or engage with online.
Dear Agony Aunt – I am thinking of leaving my husband/job. What should I do?
Agony Aunt then replies with a confirmation that you should leave today and gives a detailed list of what you need to do.
Coaching could not be further from this. At no point will your Life Coach tell you what you should do. They will ask questions and help you explore your heart and mind and help you to reach your own conclusions. They will take you out of your comfort zone so that you can grow, but they will never make decisions for you, or do the work for you, but they will hold you accountable.
#6. Life Coaching is only for the select few
This is one of the life coaching misconceptions that probably started because of executive coaching and people seeing that only the top managers got coaches. There is also the perception that coaching is expensive and not affordable and therefore only for the few. There is also the misconception that goes with this that you have to be old/older to have a Life Coach.
Life Coaching is for everyone, no matter your age, income level, qualification, title, ethnicity, gender, race, sexual identity, sexual preference, geographical location and the list could continue.
Life Coaching is for everyone who is willing to invest in their growth and do the work to get there.
#7. Life Coaching is expensive
Another one of the life coaching misperceptions is the perception that people have in their head that probably goes with the “Life Coaching is only for a few” misconception. People often do not even know the exact amount their chosen Life Coach would charge. Yes – coaches have different rates and there will always be one in your budget.
Do think of Life Coaching as being an investment in YOU. You are worthy of this investment. What outcome do you want? How much would achieving that outcome be worth to you? See the sessions of life coaching as being an investment in you, not an expense. See the time your Life Coach spends with you in terms of value received not minutes spent. Oh and no you do not need to sign up for hundreds of sessions.
#8. You can only become a Life Coach when you have experienced a significant event in your life
This misconception probably comes from those people who announce themselves as Life Coaches because they have survived some sort of traumatic event. They got divorced, or moved country or changed jobs. The idea is they are now an “expert” on divorce, immigration, emigration and career. One event does not an expert make and that person’s event may be absolutely nothing like the next person’s event. Also – remember Life Coaches are not experts in your life. They are not going to mentor you through your event the same way they may have done theirs. Instead – and this is where it can get murky, your Life Coach may have empathy for a specific situation from a lived experience, but they are still going to coach you through your event. A professional Life Coach will have empathy for your situation totally independent of whether they have experienced their own similar situation.
Other life coaching misconceptions
There are many misconceptions about Life Coaching and Coaching in general and you are quite welcome to ask me. Do contact me with your questions and queries and if you or someone you know would like Life Coaching or Business Coaching.
Colleen Qvist is a Life Coach, Business Coach, Facilitator and Speaker and the owner of CQ Consulting www.cqconsulting.co.za Colleen is a credentialed coach with COMENSA and serves as the COMENSA Gauteng Chair.