WHY LIFE COACHING AS A BUSINESS IS DEAD AND WHY YOU NEED TO CHANGE IF YOU WANT TO SURVIVE.
By NICK BOLTON.
Life coaching, as a money making business, is dead. The day of the generic life coach has passed. The industry has matured; there’s a growing understanding of the role of a coach as a change maker not a be-all-things-to-all-people identikit.
Coaches who want to work in the personal coaching world, as opposed to the executive or corporate arenas where traditional coaching still functions effectively, are becoming change makers. Being a just life coach is not enough.
There are a few exciting consequences of this which I see playing out in the work I do with the coaches we train.
Firstly, the successful coaches are clear about who they want to help and why.
Coaches are finding that not only does specialising in a certain aspect of life or business improve their own business results but it also means they get better at creating change in that area of work.
As an example, one of the coaches we have trained focuses on helping head teachers to improve their school performance, manage their own stress and expectations, build a more effective team from the teaching staff and much more. As she has embarked on this journey, she realised that she can help her clients get much better results by understanding their world inside out than by being a jack-of-all-trades.
Not only that but her marketing methods could be exponentially more focused, attractive and relevant when aimed at a certain group of people rather than everyone.
Ask yourself this question: if you were a head teacher and you were approached by two coaches. One is a life and business coach who works with anyone and everyone and one is a coach who specialises in the issues of school and heads. Which would you choose?
It barely needs an answer, does it!
I often talk to the coaches we train about finding a passion that will provide the lifeblood of their business motivation. And that passion comes from knowing that you’re doing the work you were meant to do and that you enjoy doing your way.
So finding the group of people you really care about working with is one consequence of the shift to thinking of yourself as a change maker not just life coach.
The next, and equally important consequence, is that as a successful coach you need to become good at doing more than just coaching.
By focusing on the change your client wants, rather than the process that you expect to do with them, you’ll discover a whole world of variety. Instead of sticking dogmatically to coaching you soon realise it’s about blending a range of skills to get the best results for your clients.
As an example, one of the most popular ways for coaches to reach out and offer a different kind of approach is through running workshops. Many of the coaches we train go on to run workshops as both part of the work they do to create change but also as a way of reaching out to potential one-to-one coaching clients. It’s incredibly effective and also highly enjoyable element to being a coach.
Successful coaches thrive on their own personal growth and development of new skills. Part of the joy of being a coach is to be able to flex your brain power and emotional intelligence by constantly developing.
Running workshops is just one of many new skills coaches develop because of this shift in the role of the coach. Others might include public speaking, running a mastermind group, video coaching, group coaching and so much more.
A third consequence of the shift has been the need for coaches to position themselves as experts or thought leaders with a message or solution to share. This might be achieved by writing a book, creating a well-subscribed blog, speaking at events, even becoming an industry celebrity!
One coach I know who only started her business just one and a half years ago was recently flown off to New York in a private jet, is appearing on TV and has been commissioned to write her own book.
Another of the coaches we trained has become a leading light on gay women’s issues and as well as coaching is now an agony aunt for a leading gay women’s magazine.
If this feels out of reach, don’t worry it’s only because it’s outside of your experience at the moment. Neither of the coaches I mentioned were expecting to be agony aunts, authors or flown off to New York when they started. But coaches grow as they learn and this comes from focusing on being a change maker for a particular group of people.
So where does it leave the art and skill of coaching itself?
Quite simply, it’s more important than ever to actually be a highly-skilled coach. Coaching is the lynchpin of a coach’s ability to create change. Great coaching produces great results and it’s this that coaches are measured by in the end.
I started with the bad news that life coaching was never a business.
But the great news is that the business that is there to be had is so much more than life coaching. It’s a business in which you become a powerful agent of change for the people you care about helping. Yes, it’s absolutely about using coaching as your core skill to provoke response, provide space for exploration and create momentum for results.
But it’s also about seeing beyond the skill of coaching itself as the only way to create change. It’s about reaching out with a message that resonates with your people, providing services and space for them to connect with you, offering forums to share ideas or discover answers within a group of likeminded people. It’s about taking to the stage and becoming a focus for the powerful shift you want to see in the world.
As I look around the personal coaching world today I see room for massive optimism as coaches find their place in the vast array of human activities and lifestyles. There’s a seismic shift in how coaching is working outside of the corporate boardrooms. And it’s exciting, exhilarating, life-affirming. Coaches are no longer just life coaches they are a force for change in the lives of those they truly care about working with.
About the Author
Nick Bolton is the founder of the Smart School of Coaching. In addition he draws on over a decade of experience providing training to the public sector. Nick is passionate about helping ordinary people to extraordinary things.
The Smart School of Coaching is one of only a handful of UK organisations to offer a genuine coaching qualification (as opposed to an accreditation). The Smart School trains and support coaches and NLP practitioners to build passion-led coaching businesses. See: www.thesmartschool.co.uk