10 Little-Known Skills of Life and Career Coaching

In a profound and completely surprising way, I discovered who I truly am -- a person who is passionate for helping people live magnificent lives and careers. Not mediocre. Not a bit above average. Not just better or okay. But an extraordinary life, full of rich diversity, honest feeling and clear purpose.
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When have you done something that changed your life?

Maybe a class you took. Maybe lessons and practicing something. Maybe working with a mentor.

It happened to me studying to become a professional coach. The work had an immense and positive impact on my entire life; changing how I see and live in the world.

The tools and methodology enabled me to become an expert at the coaching process. But, even more important I learned this: Coaching is not just training. It is a way to live your life.

What I now teach, I strive to live; to be the same person coaching as I am when I'm not. It's "walking the walk... talking the talk." Integrity. Wholeness. Authenticity.

1. Hold the client's agenda
Coaches assist you to get what you want. We always focus on your choices. We never decide what is best for a client.

Who you are and what you want is your agenda. You have goals, hopes, dreams and intentions, and it's our job to help you meet them. We honor your values and assist you to be true to them.

Having an open mind, being non-judgmental is critical in coaching.

2. Detached involvement
Detaching has purpose, because even while you're intensely involved and empathetic with your clients life and questions, you remain totally open and objective.

Empathy allows you to connect emotionally with people. It's not sympathy, where you feel sorry for someone, instead you feel with them.

3. Three levels of listening
Listening takes practice. It's at the center of all the transformations that take place in coaching.

1. Subjective everyday listening, where you relate what is being said only to yourself.

2. Objective listening is deeper, with more focus on the other person.

3. Intuitive listening is the deepest, where you get to the heart of another person, using all your senses and instincts. It's the most valuable and powerful form of listening because it enables a trained coach to connect with you.

Listening is a simple act and when you trust your intuition, you'll hear -- the tones, silences and energy levels of that person.

4. Get rid of judgment
In classes, it seemed we worked with every life situation there is. Coaching couples, individuals, anger, joy, your inner critic, building confidence, questions of age, family, children, grief, work, religion, love, sex, money, business and the unknown.

It wasn't just practice, but an awakening to the urgent obligation we each have never to judge another human being. Never to see their choices as good/bad, right/wrong. Not to be biased, prejudiced or opinionated on how someone else lives their life.

This is what I mean when I say -- coaching is not just training, it's a way of life.

This coaching principle helps explain that:

Our level of true awareness is directly related to our lack of judging. An effective coach does not use his or her own personal value system as the standard to decide what is best for a client. We are each on our own journey. Living in the physical world means living in duality -- light/dark, hot/cold, happy/sad, etc. One side of duality judges things as positive and the other side as negative. In order to be non-judgmental, we have to take a quantum leap past duality -- away from ego -- to a place where we are able to see other people for who they really are -- beautiful and powerful beings experiencing the physical world, perfectly. -- iPEC -- Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching

5. Breaking up blocks
When Tim Miller (name changed) started coaching, he was a successful CPA, out of work, and not sure what he wanted to do.

He described himself as, " ...a financial failure, never amounting to much, lazy, an underachiever."

Immediately we talked about his heckler or "gremlin," his inner voice that said: "Tim, you'll always be a failure."

Coaching blocks is one of the important tools used to help a client get unstuck, to see what limits their potential, undermining confidence and progress.

Naming your "gremlin" helps take its power away.

Here's how Tim defined his "demon":

Fagan is his name, the character in Oliver Twist. Fagan is a fake, not what he seems and calculatingly evil. Fagan failed to support young Oliver when he had a chance at real happiness. He sabotaged him...

Sabotage aptly describes the purpose of a "gremlin."

6. Two different desires
Tim saw two forces working in him.

One was catabolic -- negative, destructive and self-defeating.

The other was anabolic -- positive, constructive, empowering.

This is Tim's true self, who he is at his best -- confident, innovative, happy, hardworking and successful.

When you make conscious choices to be positive, you shift out of the low, negative energy of being a "poor me" victim -- to higher, more powerful levels of energy such as responsibility, concern, creativity and acceptance.

7. Keep challenging yourself
Tim had spent seven days soul searching this question: What do you want to do?

He had his answer. Tim wanted to run his own business -- creating training videos for professional massage therapists.

It was thrilling to hear his confidence, high energy, creative plans, commitment and joy. All of his past experience with photography, massage therapy, sales and business acumen fit in perfectly.

Coaching challenged Tim to find an answer and, it was the complete opposite of failure mode.

8. Coaches don't give advice
We don't tell people what to do. We help people take action.

Tim did just that, drafting a two page, detailed business plan: Executive Summary; Business Description; The Market and Competition; Products and Services; Management and Personnel; Investment.

Michael: "If you're 100-percent clear on your purpose in opening this business, what does it do for you?"

Tim: "I have focus, energy, direction. Purpose makes me strong and happy."

9. Dreams are real plans for success

By our fourth and final coaching session, Tim had done a tremendous amount of work. He named his company, produced his first product and made money.

Tim: "Well, it's not a lot of money."

Michael: "Sure there's more to do, but why not celebrate your success instead of complaining? What's running you now?"

Tim: "My 'gremlin'. He's trying to shoot me down."

Tim is a success! That's the most important thing he learned from coaching.

His failure mode was fake. He fell back on it whenever he wanted to be lazy and feel bad. When Tim saw what he wanted, saw the truth about himself, he broke out. It was his destiny to be successful.

He told me, "I'm good! I'm not quitting. I have vision and I'm optimistic."

10. Stretch yourself. Do more than you thought you could do

Coaching is valuable, life increasing knowledge. It promotes vision and purpose, builds happiness and success, enabling you to meet your dreams and potential.

I stretched myself all over the place in coaching school. Learning new things that met and strengthened my core values -- how to be properly detached and vitally present, breaking through blocks and limiting beliefs, listening and not judging and trusting my intuition.

In a profound and completely surprising way, I discovered who I truly am -- a person who is passionate for helping people live magnificent lives and careers. Not mediocre. Not a bit above average. Not just better or okay. But an extraordinary life, full of rich diversity, honest feeling and clear purpose.

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