Life Coaching Explained

A friend once told me the story of a Hungarian swimming coach.

He coached a university team. He took over when the team was in the middle of the league tables, and in just two years he turned them from average swimmers to the winners of the inter-university swimming cup.

Overjoyed at their victory, a few of the students took their coach and threw him into the pool.

After a few moments of confusion, several of them jumped into the pool to help fish out their poor coach. It turns out he couldn’t swim.

This coach wasn’t the best swimmer of them. In fact, he couldn’t swim at all. But what he was really, really good at was helping others become the best swimmers they can be.

I bring this up, because I often come across people who are a bit confused about how life coaching works.

A life coach isn’t better, or smarter, or more experienced in life than you. A life coach simply has a thorough understanding of how the brain works, and is really, really good at helping you direct your thoughts in a way that helps you consciously understand what drives you on a deep level, and then take real world action to align with that.

Coaching vs. counselling vs…

Coaching is a bit tricky to describe by itself. Often it’s easier to describe what life coaching is not. So let’s have a quick look at how it compare to counselling, therapy, and a few other disciplines.

Imagine you’re learning to drive a car.

You can hire a counsellor, a coach, or a few other similar folks. How exactly do they compare to each other?

  • a therapist explores your past experiences of driving a car
  • a counsellor listens to your anxieties about driving a car
  • a mentor shares his own experience of driving a car
  • a consultant tells you what to do
  • a coach asks you open questions to let you discover how to drive by yourself

From this description, you might think coaching sounds pretty crap. That’s a good sign, because coaching would be a pretty crappy way to learn to drive.

Each of those disciplines is useful in different circumstances. Driving a car is a specific skill with set rules and best answers… so you’d probably be best off hiring a consultant or a mentor to teach you how to drive.

On the other hand, your life has no set answers. Also, you have far more knowledge about your own life than anybody else ever could be, even if they studied you as a university degree, wrote two theses about you and then spent 30 years following you around with a camera and microphone.

That’s why you provide the answers during life coaching.

Apart from the answers being tailored exactly to your life, with all the fine details an outsider could never know, the answers you give yourself during life coaching have another benefit. You’re much more likely to act on your own suggestions than on somebody else’s! And taking action is the only way to change your life for the better. (Changing your habits of thinking also takes action.)

The life coach’s experience lies in asking the right questions to help you elicit all the right answers from your subconscious mind. Think of the answers from your subconscious mind like big shiny diamonds, and the life coach as a friendly prospector who lends you their expertise in locating and extracting those diamonds.

In a moment, I will give you more insight into what exactly happens during life coaching sessions. But before that, now that we covered what life coaching is and isn’t about, let’s see who it’s for (and who it’s not for)!

Who is life coaching for?

Here are some signs you would benefit from hiring a life coach:

  • you’re not happy with your current life situation, but aren’t sure what to change (feeling stuck)
  • you have trouble staying motivated
  • you have goals, but find it hard to keep on track, succumbing to procrastination
  • you have something important in your life that you keep thinking about, but never take any action

Who is life coaching NOT for?

Here are a few reasons life coaching might not be for you:

  • if you have deep psychological problems or trauma (see a therapist for that)
  • you expect to spend hours digging into your past (knowing where your trouble came from is nice, but it’s not really useful for dealing with them. Knowing where you are right now and where you want to be, and then bridging the gap, is what we life coaches do.)
  • you feel it would be nice to change something in your life, but can’t really be bothered to take action (I can’t just wave my magic life coaching wand and give you the life of your dreams. (That’s part of the secret super-deluxe package.) It’s still up to you to take action to make those changes happen.)

If you’re not sure if life coaching is for you, e-mail me at I offer a free 20-minute consultation to help you decide if life coaching is right for you. (And yes, I’ll pay for the call either to Skype or to a landline phone). E-mail me to arrange a time for the call.

What life coaching is like

A life coach’s first and foremost goal is to help you achieve what you want to achieve.

Whether you want to stop procrastinating and get working on that business idea you’ve had for months, or to achieve better balance between your work and family life, or even just to figure out what it is you want from life, that’s what your life coach will support you in.

To do that, they will seek to understand how you see the world. See what makes you tick. Listen to what you say, how you say it… even listen to the spaces between your words. During each session, you will have 60 minutes of their undivided attention.

Life coaches understand we all have different values. And no values are right or wrong – each person’s core values are exactly right for them. Your life coach won’t judge you. Instead, they will look at the world through your eyes, according to your values, and then help you best achieve what you want in accordance with your values.

Your coach will hold you accountable according to your own standards.

One of the first things most life coaches will do is help you discover your own core values. We have all sorts of nifty ways to help you bypass your overanalyzing conscious mind (“Should I have value this more than the other? But what will my partner think? Also, I’ve been told this other value is really important. Maybe I should value that more…”). We’ll cut through all that and let your subconscious mind tell us what you value most in the world.

Once you understand your core values, you will look at how they relate to your life, and where a subtle value conflict might have often been leaving you uncomfortable and drained without you even realizing where that feeling comes from.

After that, most sessions will run based on what you want to most work on at the time. Your life coach will ask you questions to help you discover the best answers for your current situation, then let you figure out specific actions that you can take between two successive sessions and hold you accountable on those.

A life coach will help you consistently take action during the coaching relationship, because action is by far the quickest way to improve your situation. You will usually agree to take some specific actions between one coaching session and the next, and your coach will hold you accountable on those.

Now, most coaches don’t do completely pure coaching. We all have different skill sets, and occasionally bring in different skills to help clients. For example, I use bits of NLP in my life coaching, because it has some ridiculously effective tools for motivating yourself and blasting through limiting beliefs. But mostly I use my life coaching skills, because that’s what helps my clients the most.

In short, a life coach will look at the world through your eyes, ask you questions to help you discover your own answers, then hold your hand when it needs holding and kick your ass when it needs kicking.

If you think life coaching could be right for you

After reading all that, do you think life coaching is right for you?

If yes, I’ll do exactly what you expect me to do. Offer my own coaching services 🙂

Check out my range of life coaching offers to find the one that’s best tailored to your needs.

Or, if you have any questions, or want to arrange a free 20-minute consultation to help you figure out if life coaching is right for you, e-mail me at, or fill in the contact form below:

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